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Eight things to know about COVID******
BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- The first Playbook that explains anti-COVID-19 measures to be observed for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games was released on Monday.
This Playbook serves as the basis of the game plan to ensure that all Games participants and the people of China stay safe and healthy. Here are eight key points that all Games participants should know about the Playbook.
1. GUIDEBOOK TO SAFE AND SUCCESSFUL GAMES
The Playbook has been developed jointly by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2022, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.
The Playbook has two versions, one for athletes and team officials, and another applies for other stakeholders, referring to International Federations (IFs), marketing partners, workforce, broadcasters, press, and the Olympic and Paralympic Family.
As the Playbook emphasizes, the vaccination policy, a "closed-loop" management system and regular testing are among the vital elements that will enable the Games to take place safely.
Participants are considered to be fully vaccinated according to the regulations of their country of residence at least 14 days prior to their departure to China, or if not eligible for full vaccination due to proven recent infection.
"Anyone who was not fully vaccinated will normally need to quarantine for 21 days upon arrival in Beijing. For athletes and team officials, exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis based on medical reasons," introduced Wang Quanyi, deputy director of Public Health Office of the Games Service Department of the Beijing 2022 Organizing Committee (BOCOG).
3. CLOSED LOOP
As the Playbook specifies, a closed loop system will be applied during Games participants' entire stay in China.
Within the closed loop, Games participants travelling to Beijing (and domestic staff in regular contact with other Games participants) will only be allowed to circulate in dedicated vehicles between permitted destinations (such as Games venues, accommodation facilities, and dining facilities).
"The closed loop will not restrict participants' free activities in the big 'bubble', and we'll provide local cuisine as well as other leisure facilities in the 'bubble'," said Huang Chun, deputy director general of the Pandemic Prevention and Control Office at the BOCOG.
4. DAILY TESTING AND FACE MASK
In order to better prevent and control the spread of COVID-19, every participant within the closed loop system is required to have daily screening tests for COVID-19 and wear a face mask (KN95, N95, FFP2, or equivalent standard) during the Games.
"The principle is to protect everyone from being infected," noted Xu Zhen, a researcher of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
There will be sampling collection sites available 24/7 at specific venues including participants' accommodation site, where medical personnel will take throat swabs.
"Through daily testing, anyone who has the COVID-19 virus will be identified as early as possible," added Xu. "The system with strict protocols will allow everyone, including athletes, press and other stakeholders in the closed-loop, to perform the day-to-day activities essential to their roles during the Games."
5. CONTINGENCY PLAN
What protocols will be conducted if a confirmed positive test result is found in the closed loop system?
As Xu explained, positive cases will be processed according to their symptoms. "The one with symptoms will be transferred to a dedicated hospital for treatment, and the asymptomatic ones will be asked to isolate in other dedicated facilities or at his or her accommodation (As the IOC proposed, it would be better if asymptomatic persons can isolate in hospitals as well).
6. FULL RANGE RESPONSIBILITY
The Playbook also requires Games participants to continue to monitor their health and check their temperature for 14 days after leaving China.
"The Playbook asked for 14 days of health monitoring before participants' departure to China, as well as after leaving China," said Wang. "If any positive case is found, CLO of every delegation groups will give us feedback, which is responsible for the full-range participation of Games for all."
7. DAILY TESTING AND FACE MASK
The Playbook is applicable to the Paralympic Winter Games. Adjusted rules and principles are included in the Playbook under due consideration for participants in the Paralympic Games.
"For those who need to communicate by lip reading, they can take off face masks temporarily. Besides, disability-friendly facilities such as wheelchairs will be equipped for participants in need. Volunteers will also be available to offer help if needed," noted Huang Chun.
Huang said that if any Paralympian had a confirmed positive test, relevant accompanying members would be allowed to hospital for treatment or to the isolation facility, according to the Playbook.
As for room service in the closed-loop-system hotels, the hotels will provide various foods with different price levels, to avoid possible financial burdens with high prices. The hotels in the closed loop will provide emergency services such as a purchase service outside the closed loop. In hospitals and isolated facilities, there will be English speakers who can provide health service and mental health support.
8. Playbook 2.0
The second edition of the Playbook series is expected to be released in the near future.
"The first Playbook aims to notice the Games participants about what they should do before the Games. More detailed information will be added to the second version," said Huang. "We will further refine the Playbook according to the test series currently running in Beijing and make adjustments based on the global situation as well as relevant countries' counter-COVID-19 policies." Enditem
China's free trade port unveils opening******
HAIKOU, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- South China's Hainan Province plans to lock in three sectors, including duty-free shopping, international medical care and international education, in its drive to become an international tourism and consumption destination, according to its 2021-2025 development plan.。
The island province is a free trade port. The plan recently published sets the target for its tourist industry to contribute to 17.8 percent of its total economic growth by 2025.。
Efforts will be made in the Hainan Boao Lecheng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone to introduce and cultivate a batch of high-end and professional medical institutions to promote the research progress on stem cell, immune cell and gene therapy, plus other new techniques in the biomedical sector.。
The medical pilot zone also encourages people from the countries joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to come for treatment. By 2025, Lecheng is expected to attract about 500,000 people to receive medical service in Hainan, the plan noted.。
In regards to education, Hainan encourages overseas colleges and educational institutions to settle on the island.。
The number of international students in Hainan is expected to reach 10,000 by 2025. The province will also introduce about 15 international high schools and kindergartens and more than three overseas high-level universities and vocational colleges in science, agriculture and medicine by 2025.。
Last June, China released a master plan to build the southernmost province into a globally influential and high-level free trade port by the middle of the century. Enditem。
Dismissed: Germany's Merkel becomes caretaker chancellor******
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is handed the certificate of dismissal by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during an official dismissal ceremony on Tuesday at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin.
Angela Merkel took a step closer to political retirement on Tuesday after receiving her formal dismissal certificate from the post of chancellor after 16 years in office, though she will lead a caretaker government until her successor is sworn in.
Hours earlier, Merkel attended the opening session of Germany's new parliament in Berlin, taking a seat in the VIP gallery as the recently elected lawmakers met for the first time. Merkel, who first won a seat in the Bundestag 31 years ago, did not run again in the September 26 election.
Lawmakers elected Baerbal Bas, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, as speaker of the 736-member lower house. She succeeds Wolfgang Schaeuble, a 79-year-old conservative and former finance and interior minister, who was also the longest-serving member of the last parliament, having first been elected in 1972.
Bas, whose party narrowly beat Merkel's center-right Union bloc, has been a member of the Bundestag since 2009. The 53-year-old was a deputy leader of her party's parliamentary group in the last parliament and its spokesperson on health, education and research.
Bas told fellow lawmakers that she would work for fairer representation of women in parliament. She is only the third woman to head the Bundestag since its creation in 1949.
"The responsibility has by far not been spread fairly on all shoulders," she said.
While the Bundestag has more female members following last month's election, women are still a long way from reaching parity in the national legislature. More than a third, or 34.7 percent, of the new lawmakers are women compared to 31.4 percent in the previous parliament, according to the German news agency dpa.
Bas emphasized that even though parliament does not yet reflect the full diversity of German society, the new Bundestag has become more diverse, with more immigrant lawmakers and younger members.
She vowed to protect the lower house against hatred and promised, "I will defend democracy against its enemies."
The three parties that hope to form Germany's new government said last week they aim to have the country's next chancellor in place in early December, but acknowledged that they face a complex task.
The Social Democrats, environmentalist Greens and pro-business Free Democrats opened formal coalition talks following a preliminary deal earlier this month, which set out their priorities but left many open questions.
German coalition talks are an elaborate affair, producing an agreement that sets out details of the government's program for its four-year term. They have tended to get longer over the years as the country's political landscape has fragmented, meaning that elections rarely produce parliamentary majorities for traditional allies.
If the negotiations succeed, the new government will send Merkel's center-right Union bloc into opposition after 16 years at the helm. Her likely successor would be Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats, her vice chancellor and finance minister since 2018.
Handing Merkel her dismissal certificate, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier thanked her for steering the country through difficult times, particularly during her final four-year term. He cited the coronavirus pandemic, Britain's departure from the European Union and a US government under President Donald Trump that he said "had little to no interest in the international order and trans-Atlantic partnership."
Merkel last week received a warm farewell from fellow European Union leaders and former US President Barack Obama. Her final weeks as caretaker include representing Germany as the G-20 meeting in Italy and next week's UN climate conference in Glasgow.