Hong Kong's head of government tested positive for COVID after meeting with Xi Jinping at APEC

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John Lee also had maskless meetings with the presidents of Vietnam, Indonesia and Chile

Hong Kong's head of government tested positive for COVID after meeting with Xi Jinping at APEC

John Lee with Xi Jinping, in Bangkok (via AP)

Hong Kong's chief executive, John Lee, tested positive for COVID after returning from his trip to Thailand for the Asia-Pacific Cooperation (APEC) summit, where he met with the president of China, Xi Jinping, and other regional leaders.

The government of the semi-autonomous region announced Monday that the PCR tests carried out to Lee upon arrival this Sunday night at Hong Kong International Airport tested positive.

The Hong Kong leader has been isolated following the guidelines of the former British colony's health authorities, will work from home and attend video meetings if necessary, the government posted Monday morning in a statement.

During the four-day trip to Thailand, Lee stood next to Xi Jinping at the event's gala dinner on November 17 and sat next to the Chinese leader in a closed-door meeting the next day, both times not wearing masks.

In addition to Xi, Lee met with Chinese Ambassador to Thailand Han Zhiqiang, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Energy Minister Supattanapong Punmeechaow, among others. He was also seen conversing without a mask with Chilean President Gabriel Boric.

Hong Kong's head of government tested positive for COVID after meeting with Xi Jinping at APEC

Gabriel Boric and John Lee Ka-chiu (via Reuters)

Lee's visit to Bangkok represented the Hong Kong chief executive's first trip abroad to promote the city as a global financial center after years of isolation due to the policies and restrictions caused during the pandemic.

The APEC summit in Thailand and the recently held G20 meeting in Indonesia forced Xi Jinping and Lee to face the reality of a world used to living day-to-day with the coronavirus a Unlike China and Hong Kong, which remain clinging to strict anti-COVID measures.

Hong Kong has steadily eased its COVID measures since the summer in an attempt to safeguard its position as a financial center, in check after almost three years of border closures.

To this end, it eliminated the hotel quarantine in September, which made it easier to hold large events in the city international after three years, such as the Rugby Sevens World Series or the investment summit of global financial leaders.

(With information from EFE)

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