Canada eases virus travel measures for kids aged 5 to 11


OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Unvaccinated children aged five to 11 traveling with a fully vaccinated adult will no longer need a COVID-19 test to enter Canada beginning Monday, the federal government said.

Pre-entry tests will still be needed for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers over the age of 12 who are eligible to travel to Canada.

Children under five years of age don’t currently require a COVID-19 test to enter Canada.

Government officials announced several other small changes to ease restrictions for international travelers taking effect on Monday.

Fully vaccinated travelers, and children under 12 accompanying them, will no longer need to provide their quarantine plans when they enter the country.

Vaccinated people arriving in Canada won’t need to wear a mask for 14 days, keep a list of contacts or report COVID-19 symptoms.

Travelers will also no longer need to quarantine if someone in their group develops COVID-19 symptoms or tests positive.

All travelers are still required to use the ArriveCAN app to upload travel and vaccination information within 72 hours of their arrival to Canada and/or before boarding a plane or cruise ship destined for Canada.

“All travelers, regardless of vaccination status, must also continue to wear a mask throughout their entire travel journey,” the government said in a news release.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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Dubai airport is busiest for global travel as virus persists – FOX13 News Memphis


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — (AP) — Dubai’s main airport said Tuesday it has retained its top place as the world’s busiest for international travel with around 29 million passengers shuttling through the global gateway last year.

The 2021 passenger figures are encouraging for the tourism-driven economy of Dubai, regarded as a critical link between East and West. The numbers are sign that international travel has picked up somewhat since the coronavirus pandemic spawned unprecedented global lockdowns and border closures in 2020. Last year’s figure represents a 12% increase in traffic at Dubai International Airport compared to 2020, which had recorded nearly 26 million travelers.

Still, even with 29.1 million passengers crisscrossing last year through Dubai International Airport, or DXB, the figure is nowhere near the pre-pandemic milestone of 86.4 million in annual traffic logged by the airport in 2019.

Dubai is currently hosting the six-month-long World’s Fair, which was delayed by a year due to the pandemic. Expo 2020, which opened in October and runs until the end of March, has attracted millions of visitors as well as heads of state, royalty and celebrities, helping to further cement Dubai’s reputation as a global destination. It’s unclear, though, what the overall contribution of the Expo has been to Dubai’s economic recovery.

Just over 70% of Dubai’s airport traveler figures last year represent arrivals, with much of that likely residents traveling to and from the emirate. Prior to the pandemic, around half of all passenger figures were transiting through Dubai.

CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, said DXB forecasts 57 million travelers to come through the airport this year, and a full recovery to pre-pandemic figures by 2024.

“Dubai has done such a good job in reassuring travelers. It’s a safe city to visit and to come and holiday and do business. So I think the the actual trends to recovery are very encouraging, indeed,” Griffiths said.

It marks the eighth consecutive year that Dubai International Airport clinches the mantle of the world’s busiest for international travel, surpassing London’s Heathrow and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson for global travelers, although the latter is among the busiest in terms of overall passenger traffic.

The largest share of traffic to Dubai came from India, with 4.2 million travelers, followed by Pakistan, with 1.8 million travelers last year. A key growth market for travel to and from Dubai is neighboring Saudi Arabia, which is actively working to attract business and tourism in direct competition with Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates.

The UAE is home to more than 100,000 British citizens. Dubai’s main airport logged 1.2 million passengers from the U.K. last year, including 77,000 in December alone.

Dubai, under orders from the United Arab Emirates aviation authority, was forced to ground all passenger flights and close its airports for eight weeks in spring of 2020. Unlike the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi, though, Dubai quickly reopened its doors to travelers. Dubai has not required proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter and does not require a negative virus test to enter most places. This approach has not come without a cost. The UAE was red-listed as a “do not travel” country by the U.K., U.S. and other nations for much of last year.

“What we’re now trying to do is campaign globally for the relaxation of travel restrictions and testing,” Griffiths said. “But we now see the requirement for that is receding. We just need to get governments to recognize that fact and act quickly to remove the remaining travel restrictions.”

Overall, coronavirus infection figures remain relatively low across the UAE. The country has been aggressive in inoculating its population of more than 9 million people against COVID-19, most of whom are foreign residents and all of whom have been able to receive the vaccine free of charge.

While masks in public spaces are still required in Dubai, life in the city-state can otherwise feel unhindered by the pandemic. Just this week, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic stepped onto the tennis court to compete in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis championship, his first tournament since being ejected from Australia and missing the year’s first Grand Slam event over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.





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NBA All-Star Weekend tips off amid snowstorm, virus concerns


Thank Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball, who was selected to both the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday and the All-Star Game on Sunday, for providing the weekend’s unofficial slogan: “Stay out the cold and don’t get sick.”

The weather concerns canceled flights and scrambled travel plans for many attendees, including CNN anchor John King, who drove from D.C. late Thursday so that he could host a panel at the NBA’s annual technology summit, which brings together players, owners and other industry executives.

While Silver expressed hope that the weekend might serve as a pandemic bookend and the NBA dropped its indoor masking requirement for attendees, covid-19-related challenges were still visible everywhere, from shuttered storefronts to health protocols that required reporters to submit proof of their vaccines, booster shots and negative test results and to don layers of credentials and wristbands to attend events. Bill Russell cited health concerns in his decision to skip the festivities, which will include recognition of the league’s 75th anniversary team Sunday.

“I was proud to play in 12 All-Star Games, and have been lucky to attend so many as a fan,” the Hall of Fame center said in a statement. “I don’t lightly make the decision to miss one. But I don’t take anything about covid lightly either.”

Even with less pomp and circumstance than usual — Michael Jordan’s annual VIP party is off, and multiple sneaker brands opted against hosting their typical pop-up events — this year represents clear progress from 2021, when the NBA was forced to scale down and relocate its All-Star Weekend from Indianapolis to a fan-less arena in Atlanta. The league’s top decision-makers are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel, and they played up the promises of the future at the tech summit.

The NBA enlisted former president Barack Obama to help unveil its ambitious plans to develop training programs across Africa, then hosted TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew for an extended conversation about the social media app’s explosive growth. Owners such as Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks and Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers participated in panel discussions about cryptocurrency, NFTs, sports gambling and other potential revenue streams, and Silver introduced “Coach Nat” — short for NBA Augmented Telepresence — a hologram-like instructor who will teach basketball’s fundamentals in the metaverse.

“My role is to help coach, train and develop the next generation of NBA talent,” said Coach Nat, who was voiced by Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal. “I know all the best moves and am untethered by one single dimension. I can even make a free throw.”

Back in non-augmented reality, Manu Ginóbili headlined the list of 11 nominees for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. Joining the San Antonio Spurs legend were former NBA players Michael Cooper, Tim Hardaway and Marques Johnson; WNBA stars Swin Cash and Lindsay Whalen; and longtime NBA coach George Karl. This year’s class will be officially selected April 2.

“I’m personally rooting for Tim Hardaway,” said NBA TV commentator Isiah Thomas, who led the Detroit Pistons to titles in 1989 and 1990. “If you’ve got [Mitch] Richmond and [Chris] Mullin in the Hall of Fame, you’ve got to have Tim in there.”

Ball, Anthony Edwards and the league’s other first- and second-year talents closed out opening night in the revamped Rising Stars Challenge, which pitted four teams coached by former NBA stars in a tournament-like format that featured first-round games played to 50 points and a final game played to 25 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

In the first game, Team Isiah Thomas squeaked by Team James Worthy, 50-49, thanks to game-winning free throws by Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane. Jalen Green had 20 points in a losing effort, and the Houston Rockets rookie guard proved to be a crowd favorite with several highflying dunks that provided a taste of what’s to come when he competes in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday. The loosey-goosey affair saw Magic guard Cole Anthony pull down his own shorts in an attempt to distract Bane on his final free throw.

The second contest saw Team Rick Barry defeat Team Gary Payton, 50-48, thanks to 13 points and eight rebounds from Cleveland Cavaliers rookie forward Evan Mobley, who drew the loudest cheers of the night because of his hometown connection. Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate hit a game-winning runner to advance to the final.

Team Rick Barry eked out a 25-20 win over Team Isiah Thomas in the final, with Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, the top pick in the 2021 draft, claiming MVP honors with 18 points across the two games. Magic rookie forward Franz Wagner closed the victory at the free throw line.

“After watching the first game, we knew everyone was going to compete and go for the win,” Cunningham said. “We had to come out and prove ourselves, and I’m glad we did that.”

Attendance at the event was strong despite the weather, and the Rising Stars’ new format achieved its intended goal of circumventing the extended stretches of garbage time that often arise in exhibitions. The show went on through the trying circumstances, leaving Edwards to enjoy a brief victory lap on behalf of his fellow youngsters.

“Before we got drafted, they were saying how our draft class was going to be terrible, all this, yada yada,” the Minnesota Timberwolves guard said. “Everybody in my draft class, I’m just happy to see them being successful in the league because of how much bad they had to say about us.”



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COVID news: cruises, virus cases, travel, omicron, fraud


Coronavirus omicron variant and sub-variant make up virus cases. What to know about COVID CDC travel destination alerts, cruises, flatworm named from pandemic.

Coronavirus omicron variant and sub-variant make up virus cases. What to know about COVID CDC travel destination alerts, cruises, flatworm named from pandemic.

AP

In the United States, more than 77.4 million people have tested positive for coronavirus as of Friday, Feb. 11, according to Johns Hopkins University.

About 915,000 Americans have died. Worldwide, there have been more than 406 million confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Additionally, more than 5.7 million across the globe have died from the virus. More than 213 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated to date – 64.3% of the population – and 90 million of those people have gotten a booster shot as of Feb. 11, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

The agency reports COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates are dropping nationwide as of Feb. 3. Cases are 53.1% lower as of Feb. 2 compared to when they hit a peak Jan. 15, the CDC says.

The omicron variant made up 96.4% of all sequenced cases the week ending Feb. 5, according to the agency, and the omicron BA.2 sub-variant made up 3.6% of cases.

Here’s what happened between Feb. 6 and Feb. 11:

New monoclonal antibody drug for COVID authorized, FDA says. It works against omicron

A new monoclonal antibody drug has proved to be effective against the coronavirus omicron variant and omicron subvariant, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The agency has given emergency-use authorization for the drug to be used as a treatment option for those 12 and older and weighing at least 88 pounds with “mild to moderate COVID-19.” It’s “not authorized for patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 or require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19,” the FDA says.

Pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibody — bebtelovimab — received FDA authorization for people who’ve discovered they’re COVID-19 positive and “are at high risk” for being severely affected by the virus, the agency said in a Feb. 11 news release. Additionally, it’s for those “whom alternative COVID-19 treatment options approved or authorized by the FDA are not accessible or clinically appropriate.”

For more on the monoclonal antibody, keep reading:

Cruises can opt-in to new COVID vaccine guidance, CDC says. What it means for travelers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has unveiled new coronavirus guidelines for the cruise industry, allowing cruise lines to operate under different tiers based on the vaccination status of passengers and crew as part of a new voluntary program.

And those tiers could change how long passengers are recommended to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus.

In its updated guidelines on Feb. 9, the CDC maintained it’s best to “avoid” cruise travel — and cautioned people should be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they can’t resist a vacation on the high seas.

Cruise lines have until Feb. 18 to opt into the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, which separates ships into three tiers.

Keep reading for the vaccination status tiers:

9-month old twin dies of COVID, Missouri family says. ‘A piece will always be missing’

Twins Amelia and Claire Peyton won’t have the opportunity to grow up together after one sister died of COVID-19 complications.

Both 9-month-old girls had tested positive for coronavirus, their family said, and only Claire recovered.

Amelia, of Iberia, died Tuesday, Feb. 1, at University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, KOMU reported.

“She will never be forgotten,” father Brian Petyon shared to Facebook. “She was the best happiest baby she was our world now a piece will always be missing.”

Continuing reading here:

7-year-old dies of COVID days after dream of being big sister comes true, TN mom says

A second-grader died this week in Tennessee after COVID-19 triggered an auto-immune response that “shut her little body down,” her family says.

Adalyn Rita Graviss died just a week after her dream of being a big sister became true, according to Knoxville mom Jennifer Kowalski-Graviss, who gave birth to her baby sister Ella on Jan. 28.

“This girl was our whole world,” Kowalski-Graviss wrote Feb. 8 on Facebook.

“She was so brave and so strong. She prayed for so many years to be a big sister and we are so thankful she was able to have all her dreams come true even for a few short days.”

Keep reading below:

Which countries have ‘very high’ COVID risk? CDC adds more travel destinations to list

If you’re looking to plan an international trip, it’s important to know that the majority of travel destinations worldwide are considered a “very high” COVID-19 risk compared with others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seven countries were added to the CDC’s highest risk category — level four — on Feb. 7, and the agency is urging everyone to “avoid travel to these destinations.”

Now, a total 133 travel spots make up the level four COVID-19 category with the newest additions being Armenia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Japan, Libya and Oman, according to the agency’s COVID-19 Travel Recommendations.

This comes after the CDC upgraded 12 destinations to level four on Jan. 31 including Mexico and South American nations such as Brazil, Chile and Ecuador.

“If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel,” the CDC says.

For more on the CDC’s travel alerts, keep reading:

Men, women have anxiety over COVID pandemic for different reasons. Study explains why

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the anxiety of people all over the world. But a newly published Canadian study found that the risk factors linked to anxiety disorders have differed between men and women.

According to the study, conducted at the University of Toronto and published on Jan. 29, around 1 in 7 Canadians experienced generalized anxiety disorder during the early stages of the pandemic. But anxiety in men was more likely to be driven by exposure to COVID-19 misinformation, whereas anxiety in women was exacerbated by issues like unstable employment.

The study used data from the Canadian Perspective Survey Series and included 1,753 male and 2,016 female participants age 15 and older.

Continue reading about the study’s findings:

Woman facing 10 years in prison in COVID fraud joins couple on the run, FBI says

A Southern California woman facing 10 years in prison for her alleged role in a $20 million COVID-19 fraud ring has vanished, joining two others also on the run in the case, FBI officials said.

Tamara Dadyan, 42, of Encino failed to report to begin serving her sentence and cannot be found, the FBI reported Feb. 3 on Twitter.

Her brother-in-law, Richard Ayvazyan, 43, and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, 37, disappeared in August ahead of their own sentencing hearing in the case, McClatchy News reported. They all remain missing as of Feb. 8.

THe FBI is seeking information on Dadyan’s location. Keep reading:

Unvaccinated oral surgeon sues after his medical practice shut down in Rhode Island

An unvaccinated oral surgeon has filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island after his medical practice, which saw over 800 patients each month, was shut down over him not getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New Civil Liberties Alliance.

He was banned from work as an oral surgeon, unless he got vaccinated, the same day Rhode Island’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers went into effect on Oct. 1, according to an order by the state health department.

Now, Dr. Stephen Skoly is suing the state’s Gov. Daniel McKee and the interim director of the state’s health department arguing that “Rhode Island has arbitrarily and unlawfully prevented (him) from practicing medicine.” The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island by the NCLA on Feb. 4.

The Rhode Island Department of Health declined to comment on the lawsuit. A spokesperson for the governor’s office told McClatchy News that it would not comment on pending litigation.

For more on the case, read on:

Meet ‘Humbertium covidum.’ Newly found flatworm takes its name from COVID pandemic

Scientists who discovered two new types of hammerhead flatworms during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown have dubbed one of the tiny creatures “Humbertium covidum.”

“We decided to name one of the species ‘covidum,’ paying homage to the victims of the pandemic,” Jean-Lou Justine of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, said in a news release.

Flatworms are small, alien-looking worms that prey on other worms, snails and slugs in the soil, The Washington Post reported. They are highly invasive.

Some hammerhead flatworms can reach up to 1 meter in size, but Humbertium covidum tops out at about 3 centimeters, a scientific paper by Justine and his team reported.

It has been found in Italy and France, though some records suggest it may also be found in Russia, China and Japan, the paper says. While some flatworms are extremely colorful, Humbertium covidum is metallic black with no stripes.

For more on Humbertium covidum keep reading:

Reporters Tanasia Kenney, Kaitlyn Alanis, Mark Price, Vandana Ravikumar, and Don Sweeney also contributed to this report.

This story was originally published February 11, 2022 7:14 AM.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.





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Messing skates at Olympics after virus, travel whirlwind


BEIJING (AP) — Keegan Messing went from being stuck in a room with COVID-19 to traveling around the world. One skate at the Olympics made it all worthwhile.

The figure skater’s preparations were derailed when a positive test for the virus put him off Team Canada’s scheduled flight to the Beijing Olympics, and he spent last week waiting for the series of negative tests he needed to be allowed to fly to China.

He missed the chance to represent Canada in the team event but finally touched down Monday after scrambling for places on the few flights heading to China from Europe. On Tuesday, he finished ninth in the men’s short program.

“The journey here was crazy. I’m used to long trips but this takes the cake,” Messing said. “We went Vancouver, Montreal, Frankfurt, Milan to here. To start in Vancouver and go over the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Pacific, it definitely felt like we were going in the wrong direction. Keeping the mental health side of things strong was very, very difficult.”

Messing stayed strong with video calls to his wife and baby son, whose picture he showed to the TV camera after his skate. He admits there were low moments when he watched his son “do stuff for the first time, while I’m sitting on a bed not doing anything, while I’m waiting for my quarantine to end and making it feel like I was wasting my time.”

Messing was able to train on rented ice while waiting for clearance to leave Canada. After arriving in Beijing, he had to wait for another virus test, then rush to training.

“I was looking at pictures after practice and I was like, ‘Oh hey, I forgot to shave,’” he said. “I just didn’t have time.”

Luckily, Messing relies on muscle memory and doesn’t need much time to practice.

“I’ve learned in this COVID time that no matter how many hurdles are put in front of you, your body remembers how to compete,” he said. “After no competitions, your body remembers, and so that’s what we trusted on here.”

It wasn’t even Messing’s first hectic competition of the season. A dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, he barely made it to Canadian nationals after a long journey from Alaska to Ottawa last month. His luggage was delayed, so he rushed to find replacement skates to practice.

The 30-year-old Messing has been skating since he was a toddler but no season will ever match this one. He started his skate Tuesday with a high-scoring quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination — proving he still had what it takes after the journey — and followed up with a triple axel and triple lutz. His score of 93.24 keeps him in the fight with the world’s best skaters ahead of Thursday’s free skate.

“We’ve just been keeping the happy-go-lucky attitude,” Messing said. “Just to hop on Olympic ice and to put a performance I can leave happy with, it means a lot.”

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports





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Hoteliers have resolved to live with the virus: Travel Weekly


LOS ANGELES — As the Covid-19 pandemic enters its third year, the Americas Lodging Investment Summit opening sessions on Monday indicated the hotel industry is done waiting for a return to pre-pandemic conditions. 

Hoteliers are now fully embracing the need to be more adaptable as the changes to travel continue to unfold. 

The theme for the 2022 edition of the conference, “Turning the Page,” emphasized the change in tone, as did several of the afternoon’s speakers and the opening musical act, California Dueling Pianos, who played tunes like “On The Road Again” and “Celebration.” 

“It’s now an endemic, it’s not a pandemic,” said Burba Hotel Network president Jeff Higley in his opening remarks, referring to the notion that the pandemic would be temporary when it first arrived. “It’s now a permanent fixture on our radar. That’s why we decided to go forward with [ALIS]. Moving ahead, leading by example, trying to get the industry back on its feet. With everyone’s help we can certainly do that and move on with life as safely as possible.” 

(Burba Hotel Network, the ALIS conference organizer, is owned by Northstar Travel Group, which also is Travel Weekly’s parent company.)

Conference attendees were far more resigned to accepting the current state of the industry and less inclined to lament what has been lost. At the previous ALIS, as the delta variant disrupted reopening efforts, there was a greater sense of frustration and worry.

We’re getting through. People want to get together. Demand is coming back, rates are at record highs, capital is going back to the industry.– Elie Maalouf, IHG Hotels & Resorts

“Today, it’s the delta variant. Tomorrow, what’s it going to be? This thing is like a bottomless pit; we don’t know when it’s going to end,” Homi Vazifdar, managing director of the hospitality investment firm Canyon Equity, said in the very same ballroom in July 2021. 

Now, with omicron the current variant of concern, the prevailing attitude is that this is the new landscape that hoteliers must navigate and waiting for a return to 2019 numbers or conditions is misguided. 

It has been well documented that leisure demand has driven the return of travel, while business travel remains well below pre-pandemic figures. Michael Grove, chief operating officer of HotStats, said he expects the hotel guest mix has permanently changed and will not be what it was in 2019.  

“New revenue opportunities are rearing their heads as things stand,” Grove said. “Looking back at 2019 is not the way forward. Keeping an eye on how things progress and utilizing the fantastic tools we have available in the market to be able to monitor how thigs are changing on a monthly basis is vital. Otherwise, you’re driving in the dark. We really need to keep focus on the current situation and stop looking backwards.”

In the conference’s first of a series of one-on-one interviews with hotel executives, IHG Hotels & Resorts CEO of the Americas Elie Maalouf brought a sunny, optimistic view to the stage, saying he is “confident” the industry is moving past the pandemic.

“What are we seeing? We’re getting through. People want to get together. Demand is coming back, rates are at record highs, capital is going back to the industry. Yes, Covid may have ended the golden age of travel, but the diamond age is just beginning,” he said.  

Michael Deitemeyer, president and CEO of hotel management firm Aimbridge Hospitality, said he was encouraged by the demand for travel and how recent new developments with the pandemic appear to be less disruptive than previously. While the company saw a number of group cancellations in January due to the effects of the omicron variant, 87% of those reservations rebooked for either February or March.

“There’s resiliency in that approach of thinking of [Covid] as endemic, and what that means, and how we’re going to live with it, and how we’re going to work going forward,” Deitemeyer said. “We feel very good about the year, and we’re bullish on things coming back more quickly in the fall.” 

Reflecting the push to establish business as normal, ALIS is bringing back its Summer Update events for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. The four conferences will be held in July in New York, Nashville, Dallas, and Los Angeles.





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