Hong Kong, July 3: A Hong Kong lawmaker, who was photographed standing close to Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this week, announced on Sunday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, media reports said.

Steve Ho Chun-Yin said he tested negative on Thursday when he attended the photo session during the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, CNN reported. China President Xi Jinping Defends Crackdown on Dissent in Hong Kong on 25th Anniversary of Handover

The pro-Beijing lawmaker stood one row behind Xi, handout photos of the day showed.

Ho said he tested mildly positive on Friday and had to be re-tested. He did not attend any of the handover anniversary celebration events that day, according to a statement on his official Facebook page. He then tested positive for the virus on Sunday.

The fact that someone who came into contact with Xi tested positive for the virus will be seen as a blow to the Hong Kong administration, which has spent lot of time and resources preparing for the visit and trying to ensure it stays COVID-19-free, CNN reported.

The border between Hong Kong and mainland China remains largely sealed because of the virus.

Ahead of the Chinese President's visit, hundreds of Hong Kong officials and legislators were forced into a "closed loop" system to prevent any spread of the virus. They were only allowed to travel between home and work by private vehicle and were forced to spend a night in a quarantine hotel on the eve of the handover anniversary. They were also subject to daily testing.

Xi, who has not travelled outside mainland China since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago, spent Thursday and Friday in Hong Kong. He attended the anniversary events and the swearing in ceremony for Hong Kong's new Beijing-appointed leader, former security chief and police officer John Lee, CNN reported.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 03, 2022 10:10 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).