John Lee’s positive test result comes days after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bangkok.

Hong Kong leader John Lee has tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to a regional economic summit in a bid to repair the city’s battered international image and struggling economy.

Lee tested positive on Monday, the city’s government said, days after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bangkok.

“The Chief Executive is undergoing quarantine in accordance with the guidelines of the Center for Health Protection,” the government said in a statement.

Lee’s office said he would be working from home during his mandatory isolation period, and none of his associates accompanying him had tested positive.

The APEC summit was Lee’s first overseas trip since taking office in July and his first in an official capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly three years ago.

Lee, a former chief of security and police officer, saw the trip as an opportunity to promote Hong Kong’s return to the international stage after the city’s return in September ended the controversial mandatory hotel quarantine regime for arrivals.

However, the international financial center is still enforcing some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, vaccine passes and a three-day surveillance period under which arrivals are barred from venues such as restaurants and bars.

Despite the lifting of mandatory quarantine, the number of arrivals in the city in October was almost 98 percent lower than the same month in 2019.

The city is in deep recession for the second time in three years, with the economy contracting 4.5 percent in the July-September period, following a contraction of 1.3 percent in the previous quarter.

In Thailand, Lee said he would tell “good stories” about Hong Kong, whose reputation overseas has also been tarnished by China’s sweeping crackdown on dissent in the former British colony.

During the summit, Lee met with Xi and regional leaders including Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

The APEC summit concluded on Saturday with the release of a statement saying that the war in Ukraine had caused “immense human suffering” and “significant impact on the global economy”, while noting that there were “different views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions”. .

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