Xi Jinping to visit Hong Kong for the 25th anniversary of the transfer of power, making his first trip outside of mainland China since the start of the pandemic

“Xi Jinping will attend the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s repatriation and the inauguration ceremony of the sixth government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The confirmation came after two senior Hong Kong officials tested positive for the coronavirus. COVID-19 this week, raising concerns about the possible visit of state leaders for the July 1 celebration, which includes the swearing in of the head of the city. new leader on the anniversary of its handover in 1997 from British rule.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Eric Tsang and Director of the Chief Executive’s Office Eric Chan have tested positive for nucleic acids and are in self-isolation, the Hong Kong government said in a statement Thursday.

Their cases have cast doubt on whether Xi would venture into the city, given China’s strict anti-coronavirus policy, as well as the reliability of the city’s “closed system” that requires officials to avoid public gatherings and impose early quarantines. scheduled ceremonies.

With China taking a Byzantine approach to sudden lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines, Chinese officials appear to be taking extra precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

Xi has not left mainland China since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago, but even before his visit was confirmed on Saturday, the Hong Kong government had begun preparing for the arrival of a delegation of state leaders from across the still largely closed territory. border with the mainland.

Hong Kong is betting on zero Covid.  Now he's facing a

Senior Hong Kong officials on Thursday entered a closed-loop system in which they can only travel between home and work by private vehicle and must spend the night in a quarantine hotel ahead of the anniversary of the handover. They are also tested daily for Covid-19.

“Mr. Tsang and Mr. Chang last went to work on June 22 and June 20, respectively. They wore masks and followed appropriate disease prevention measures at work, including daily rapid antigen tests with negative results. said in a government statement.

The statement did not mention the symptoms of the two officials.

Chan is going to be number one in the city. 2 official July 1, when the new leader of Hong Kong, John Lee will take the helm.

Despite high vaccination rates and a decline in overall cases, the Hong Kong government remains committed to its own zero-covid-style policy, maintaining strict social distancing and contact tracing measures, as well as tight border restrictions, including a mandatory seven-day hotel quarantine. for all arrivals.

Additional reporting by CNN’s Wayne Chang, Larry Register, Martin Goilando and Hannah Ritchie.