Chinese President Xi Jinping was seen coughing away and drinking water at a ceremony in Shenzhen on Wednesday, while Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was kept at a distance from guests of honor after potential exposure to a COVID-19 patient.
Xi was speaking at a celebratory event of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which was delayed for 30 minutes to 10:30 a.m. for unexplained reasons. Lam and her Macao counterpart, neither wearing a mask, were arranged to sit on the stage with national leaders.
The president spoke for 50 minutes, initially at a slow pace during the first half. In the second half, he frequently paused to drink water and coughed repeatedly. Whenever Xi stopped, the live feed from state broadcaster CCTV would turn the camera to guests sitting beyond the main table, but it could still capture the sounds of Xi’s coughing and drinking.
Earlier in the week, Xi visited Chaozhou and Shantou as part of his southbound tour but did not practice the norm, common in previous trips, of interacting close up with people on the streets. Most of the people who showed up to see him did not wear masks. Xi spoke using a microphone and was apparently in high spirits as he declared that China had become stronger. But when CCTV broadcast clips of Xi visiting the Navy Marine Corps in Chaozhou, he looked more serious and calm.
During the Wednesday ceremony, Lam was kept at a good distance from National Development and Reform Commission chair He Lifeng, compared with the distance among other guests.
Lam attended a Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra concert last Friday where one of the musicians later returned positive results for COVID-19. The Chief Executive’s Office said Lam had taken at least two tests in the past two days and would follow advice given by the government’s Centre for Health Protection.
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