Hong Kong finance chief Paul Chan is to remain in Saudi Arabia “for a short while” after he tested positive for Covid-19 on a rapid test.

Paul Chan in Saudi Arabia. Photo: GovHK.

The city’s number three official had been set to return to Hong Kong on Thursday after attending the sixth Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.

“He has cancelled the remaining parts of the visit and will stay in Riyadh for a short while, and seek to comply with relevant health requirements and return to Hong Kong as soon as possible,” a government statement said on Thursday.

Chan will likely miss most of the much-anticipated Global Financial Leaders’ Investment Summit, where he was set to speak. The summit – beginning next week – is meant to herald Hong Kong’s partial reopening amid the pandemic.

Libby Lee, the director of strategy and planning of the Hospital Authority. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

At a Covid-19 press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Under Secretary for Health Dr Libby Lee was asked if the finance minister could return to Hong Kong, and whether an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 would be allowed to land in the city via a private flight.

Lee said it would be inappropriate for her to comment on individual cases, adding it was the city’s policy to require all inbound travellers to obtain a negative RAT test before they could board a plane bound for Hong Kong.

Business breakfast

On Wednesday, he spoke at a breakfast session among businesspeople entitled “Hong Kong: the Financial Gateway to China.”

Paul Chan at a business breakfast on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia. Photo: GovHK.

“Hong Kong is flying again, and you are most welcome to work with us to reap the benefits of a bright and hopeful future,” he said, as he touted new policies to attract talent. “No need for a visa, no need to secure any job beforehand. And for those who do not qualify for the experience requirement, we also welcome them to come although initially we will give them a short-term visa of two years.”

Hong Kong still requires nearly a dozen Covid-19 tests for arrivals, enforces a group gathering limit in public, makes mask wearing compulsory, and requires tracing apps for entering certain premises such as restaurants.

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Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.