Papua New Guinea’s prime minister, who tested positive upon his arrival in Beijing, had to return home, canceling his schedule of one-on-one meetings with Chinese leaders, his government announced on Sunday.
James Marape had traveled to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, but
returned a positive test upon arrival in Beijing last Thursdaythe government said in a statement on Sunday.
The prime minister was to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in person, but had to settle for a videoconference with Premier Li Keqiang.
His trip to France for the “One Ocean Summit“Chaired by Emmanuel Macron was also cancelled, government officials said.
Papua New Guinea has officially recorded 37,390 cases of COVID-19 for a population of nine million.
But the incomplete screening system and a vaccination rate of less than 4% raise fears of a heavier toll.
Hospitals across the country recorded more than 2.6 million patients with flu or pneumonia symptoms between March 2020 and September 2021.
Mr. Marape’s visit to China was presented as a deepening of ties between the two countries, at a time when Beijing and Washington are engaged in a struggle for influence in the South Pacific.
The prime minister’s condition remains unknown. He was quickly evacuated from the airport on Sunday and placed in solitary confinement to limit contact.