Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan has obtained a negative Covid-19 test result just five days after testing positive and will return to Hong Kong from Saudi Arabia, where he was travelling for business. He is expected to land in the city on Tuesday afternoon, the government has announced.

Paul Chan in Saudi Arabia. Photo: GovHK.

The finance chief was attending an investment forum in Riyadh, from which he was supposed to return last Thursday, when he tested positive via rapid antigen test (RAT) for the coronavirus.

Under Hong Kong’s Covid-19 travel restrictions, anyone known to be carrying the virus is barred from entering the city.

The five-day Hong Kong Fintech Week launched on Monday. Chan, who was supposed to be attending in person, instead addressed attendees via a video recording, in which he told participants that Hong Kong was “telling the world that we’re back. Back in business, back in the business, and pleasure, of welcoming you to Hong Kong.”

A major banking summit, an initiative announced by Chan in this year’s budget, is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. His presence at the event, which is intended to signal Hong Kong’s return to the international finance stage, had been in doubt.

Last month, Hong Kong eased some travel restrictions, scrapping hotel quarantine for incoming travellers and axing the pre-departure polymerase chain reaction test requirement. Benefitting from the relaxed rules, Chan is allowed to board a flight as soon as he obtains a negative RAT result.

However, arrivals are still required to undergo four PCR tests in their first week in the city and take daily RATs for seven days. If any of these return a positive result, they will be required to isolate at home or in a government facility.

LeaveHomeSafe update

Also on Monday, the government launched an updated version of the contact-tracing LeaveHomeSafe app. One of the new features included a new button for infected people to declare their negative RAT results, which will automatically change their Red Code to Blue Code and allow them to leave isolation.

This is applicable to people who have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccination, and the earliest they can leave isolation is on the seventh day.

Red code and amber code. Photo: GovHK.

Another new feature of the app will conduct automatic checking on the Vaccine Pass of the accompanied persons. If an accompanied person is infected with Covid-19 or coming from overseas or Taiwan, the code will change to red or amber, respectively.

Hong Kong reported 4,320 new local Covid cases on Monday and 446 imported infections.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.