Tag: virus

Syrian government ‘prepares for virus second wave’



a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: Experts say limited testing capacity has hidden the scale of the crisis in Syria


© Reuters
Experts say limited testing capacity has hidden the scale of the crisis in Syria

The Syrian government has set up a temporary hospital for Covid-19 patients at a Damascus sports complex in preparation for what an official said was a possible second wave.

The facility at Al-Faiha Stadium will operate 120 beds for people requiring oxygen, but has capacity for 100 more.

The health ministry has reported 4,774 cases of Covid-19 and 228 deaths in government-held areas since March.

However, experts believe the actual figures are significantly higher.

Last month, researchers in the UK estimated that only a fraction of deaths due to Covid-19 in Damascus had been reported for various reasons, including limited testing capacity.

The UN warned that community transmission was widespread, as almost 90% of new cases could not be traced to a known source; infection rates among health workers were rising; and shortages of staff and supplies were putting even more pressure on a health system decimated by years of civil war.

Health authorities in the opposition-held north-west of Syria and the Kurdish-controlled north-east have separately reported the deaths of another 77 people with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

What is the latest from Damascus?

So far this month, the Syrian government has reported 527 new Covid-19 cases and 26 deaths across its territory, according to the health ministry’s website. In September, 1,417 infections and 86 deaths were recorded in total.

The state-run Sana news agency cited a senior health ministry official, Dr Tawfiq Hasaba, as saying the new temporary hospital at Al-Faiha Stadium was part of the measures being taken to “provide appropriate services to coronavirus patients in the event of a new climax”.

Dr Hasaba said there had been an increase in the daily number of new cases in the past week, and noted that there could be a surge in cases this winter.

Sana reported that the ministry had also set up an emergency management room to co-ordinate the transportation and treatment of patients in government and private hospitals.

The government is not currently expected to reimpose the lockdown measures it eased in May because Syria is facing a deep economic crisis.

Why are the official figures being questioned?

Despite the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, far fewer cases and deaths have been reported there than in neighbouring countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that limited testing capacity has hidden the scale of the crisis.

“A lot of cases are still going unreported, and the actual number of Covid-19 cases is much higher,” the WHO’s Syria representative, Akjemal Magtymova, told Reuters news agency last week.



a group of people sitting at a table: Schools reopened in Syria last month, ending a six-month coronavirus-related closure


© Reuters
Schools reopened in Syria last month, ending a six-month coronavirus-related closure

A senior official at a Western non-governmental organisation was also quoted as saying there had been a “major and unprecedented spike in July and most of August” in Syria, during which 120 people were dying each day on average.

That figure tallied with the number of burials that took

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UK government expands its job support program with stricter virus lockdowns due next week

The U.K. government has expanded its jobs support program as the country gears up for tighter coronavirus restrictions set to be announced next week.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street after attending a Cabinet meeting on 14 February, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street after attending a Cabinet meeting on 14 February, 2020.

Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said Friday that firms whose premises have to shut over the winter period as part of local or national restrictions will receive grants to pay the wages of staff who cannot work.

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Two weeks ago, Sunak announced the Job Support Scheme — a new emergency package of measures to contain unemployment, replacing the U.K.’s furlough scheme which is due to expire at the end of October.

It will directly top up the wages of employees working fewer hours due to suppressed business demand, enabling workers to keep their jobs on shorter hours rather than being made redundant.

The original furlough scheme in the summer had subsidized 80% of wages for millions of workers furloughed as a result of the pandemic. But Sunak confirmed in July that it would be wound down as the country began to emerge from coronavirus lockdown measures.

—CNBC’s Elliot Smith contributed to this article.

This is a breaking news story, please check back for more

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HCA Healthcare to Return $6 Billion in Government Virus Aid

(Bloomberg) — HCA Healthcare Inc. plans to return $6 billion in emergency virus-relief aid received earlier this year, after the immediate business squeeze caused by the pandemic waned for the largest publicly traded U.S. hospital operator.



graphical user interface: In this photo illustration the HCA Healthcare logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.


© Photographer: SOPA Images/LightRocket
In this photo illustration the HCA Healthcare logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.

The company will return its federal relief funds, which include $4.4 billion in accelerated Medicare payments and a $1.6 billion distribution from the Provider Relief Fund. Under the latter program, Congress allocated $175 billion for hospitals and other medical providers, largely in grants that don’t need to be repaid.

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The relief grants allocated under the CARES Act were initially sent to help medical providers deal with lost revenue and additional expenses related to Covid. In guidance last month, the government said lost revenue would be calculated as a drop in year-over-year net operating income.

The change would require providers to show declines in bottom-line profits, rather than top-line revenues, attributable to the virus, so companies that reduced expenses as volumes fell may have to return some money, Spencer Perlman, director of health care research at Veda Partners, wrote in an Oct. 6 report.

A company spokesman said HCA could retain all of the provider relief grants through mid-2021, and possibly some permanently, and it could hold on to the accelerated Medicare payments for 29 months, based on the company’s current understanding of the guidance.

Since the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in the U.S., the company has gained experience managing through the pandemic, and “we believe returning these taxpayer dollars is appropriate and the socially responsible thing to do,” Chief Executive Officer Sam Hazen said in a statement.

HCA’s repayments will be funded through available cash and future cash flow. The company’s balance sheet is also less leveraged than its closest peers, with total debt of 3.23 times earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

HCA also reported preliminary results for the third quarter, with adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $2.03 billion, missing analyst estimates. The results reflect a reversal of $822 million in stimulus income recorded during the second quarter, the Nashville, Tenn.-based company said in a statement.

HCA said hospital volumes in the third quarter were still down compared to the prior year, with same facility equivalent admissions expected to decline by 9%. The company plans to report full results on or about Oct. 26.

(Adds additional comment from company in fifth paragraph)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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UK government mulling fresh restrictions amid virus spike

The British government is mulling fresh restrictions on everyday life in England amid mounting evidence that the measures so far have done little to keep a lid on new coronavirus infections

With the number of people needing to go to hospital with virus-related conditions rising, and in some areas in the north of England alarmingly so, the pressure on the government to do more is mounting.

“We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly,” British Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC on Thursday.

“In some parts of the country, the number of cases are rising very fast and we are taking that very seriously,” he added.

As elsewhere in Europe, restrictions have been reimposed in the U.K over the past few weeks. following a spike in new coronavirus infections. On top of national restrictions, there are many local measures, largely relating to the number of people allowed to gather.

However, there is growing evidence to show that those areas that have seen additional restrictions have not experienced a slowdown in the epidemic. In some areas, the number of new infections is 10 times higher than when the localized restrictions were announced.

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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As the virus consumes the U.S. government’s elite, Trump presides over a capital in chaos.

As the coronavirus upended the top echelons of the U.S. government on Tuesday — leaving President Trump convalescing in the White House, the Capitol eerily empty after lawmakers tested positive and most of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in quarantine — the president abruptly ended talks on a stimulus bill intended to shore up the nation’s pandemic-stricken economy.

Mr. Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he was ending talks with Democrats on the bill, which aimed to send more aid to Americans grappling with high unemployment and to help state and local governments stay afloat as tax collections plummet, sent the stock market sliding. It came after Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned that failing to inject more federal help into the economy would risk weakening the tenuous recovery.

In multiple tweets later Tuesday, Mr. Trump appeared to backtrack on his assertion that an agreement would wait until after Election Day, at one point urging both chambers to “IMMEDIATELY Approve” a lapsed loan program for small businesses, funds to prevent airlines from furloughing or laying off workers and another round of stimulus checks. It was unclear if his tweets, which came after stocks fell, reflected a willingness to restart negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Both provisions have bipartisan support, but several lawmakers have pushed for them to be included in a broader package.

Taken together, the events showed the extent to which the coronavirus is continuing to dominate life in America with less than a month to go before the presidential election. The outbreak at the White House has raised concerns in the city that surrounds it. New cases are surging in the upper Midwest. The average of new reported infections across the country is creeping up again, after a late-summer decline.

In New York, which was the center of the pandemic early on but has since seen a marked decline in cases, several worrisome outbreaks led Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to temporarily close nonessential businesses and schools in some parts of New York City and its northern suburbs.

And Mr. Trump, who left the hospital to convalesce at a White House that has become a virus hot spot, announced on Twitter that he wants to face off against his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in person next week — when he could still be contagious.

Mr. Trump said he planned to attend the debate in Miami, which is scheduled for Oct. 15. It was unclear if the debate commission would permit the debate to go ahead, given his illness, or whether Mr. Biden would agree to share the stage with him. And as both campaigns prepared for a vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, aides to Vice President Mike Pence raised objections to plans to put plexiglass dividers between him and his opponent, Senator Kamala Harris of California.

Mr. Biden, in a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., where a Civil War battlefield serves as a symbol of a country divided against itself, called for national unity and said

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Merkel Vows Government Support for Germany’s Virus Recovery

(Bloomberg) — Chancellor Angela Merkel said the government will support Germany’s tentative recovery from the fallout of the coronavirus crisis “with all its strength.”



A sign tells customer to put a mask on at a fruit and vegetable stall at Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. The Bavarian capital city has imposed a five-person limit on gatherings and made mask wearing mandatory in certain public areas in central Munich.


© Bloomberg
A sign tells customer to put a mask on at a fruit and vegetable stall at Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany, on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. The Bavarian capital city has imposed a five-person limit on gatherings and made mask wearing mandatory in certain public areas in central Munich.

Europe’s largest economy is showing signs of improvement, but the scale of the damage justifies Germany’s unprecedented borrowing and spending, Merkel said in a video statement to Germany’s BDI industry lobby in Berlin on Tuesday. But the powerful group slammed the government for not doing enough to bolster competitiveness.

“Indeed, things have been gradually improving since May,” she said. To support this trend, “new debt under extraordinary circumstances is unavoidable — and justifiable in these times.”

Merkel’s government responded to the crisis this year with an aggressive trillion-euro fiscal response, retreating from years of budget discipline to pull the country out of its deepest recession in decades. The spending will continue in 2021, when Berlin plans 96.2 billion euros ($113.4 billion) in new borrowing, as constitutional debt restrictions remain suspended.

Read more: Two-Speed Europe Sees Germany Thriving as Rest of Region Suffers

As Europe heads into the winter months, Germany’s economy has held relatively stable. Unemployment declined for a third month in September, propped up by the government’s wage-subsidy program that has helped support close to 4 million furloughed workers. Merkel’s cabinet has extended the aid, known as “Kurzarbeit,” through the end of 2021.

But as the pandemic flares up again, rising restrictions have curtailed the services sector, and Germany’s Bundesbank expects this year’s recovery to proceed at a slower pace, calling for fiscal support across the 27-member European Union.

Too Much Bureaucracy

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Dieter Kempf, the head of the BDI, warned that spending wasn’t enough to fix Germany’s economy and called on the government to clear bureaucratic obstacles and prevent climate targets creating an excessive burden for companies.

“We need a state that creates the framework to make us more competitive,” he said, adding that climate goals are important but that industry needs sufficient time and resources to adjust.

Armin Laschet, one of the contenders to succeed Merkel after she steps down next year, backed that call. On Friday, he plans to present a proposal to the country’s upper house of parliament, with 48 measures that aim to fortify Germany’s economy and streamline its bureaucracy.

The move is part of an effort to bolster his profile. Laschet’s main contender to lead Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and potentially run for chancellor in next year’s election, is Friedrich Merz.

Read more: Merkel’s Old Foe May Finally Get a Chance to Undo Her Legacy

The former BlackRock Inc. director is seen by many party delegates as the more business-friendly

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Poll: Many Americans blame virus crisis on US government

The White House is seen in the background as sign of the National COVID-19 Remembrance, event at The Ellipse outside of the White House, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

The White House is seen in the background as sign of the National COVID-19 Remembrance, event at The Ellipse outside of the White House, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington.

AP

More Americans blame the U.S. government instead of foreign nations for the coronavirus crisis in the United States, a rebuke to the Trump administration’s contention that China or other countries are most at fault, a new poll shows.

The poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was conducted before President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus Friday and was hospitalized. Trump has downplayed the severity and impact of the pandemic in recent months.

Although many see plenty of blame to go around and there’s a wide bipartisan divide over who is responsible, 56% of Americans say the U.S. government has substantial responsibility for the situation. That compares with 47% who place that much blame on the governments of other countries and only 39% who say the same about the World Health Organization.

“It reflects a general lack of confidence in the way the government has handled the situation,” said Austin Wright of the Harris School for Public Policy.

More than 1 million people worldwide, including more than 200,000 Americans, have died of COVID-19 in the outbreak. Trump has squarely blamed the virus’ spread on China, where it originated, and an inadequate response from the WHO.

As he faces a rough reelection contest in November, Trump has steadily ramped up criticism of China for the virus and announced the U.S. would halt funding for and withdraw from the international health agency over alleged Chinese interference in its work. Critics, including public health experts, have said China bears some responsibility but have also harshly criticized Trump’s response.

The poll shows Democrats are especially likely to say the U.S. government is responsible for the situation, while many Republicans are likely to place the blame elsewhere. Among Democrats, 79% say the U.S. government has a great deal of responsibility, while 37% say that about other countries’ governments and 27% about the WHO. Among Republicans, 38% say the U.S. government is responsible, compared with 60% for the governments of other countries and 55% the WHO.

Self-described conservative Republican Ralph Martinez, a 67-year-old grocery store manager from the Fort Worth, Texas area, said he wasn’t sure that any government could have handled it better and dismissed criticism that Trump had downplayed the matter.

“It’s an open question, honestly,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in office, I think they’re going to do their best for everyone. But how much can they do?”

Martinez, who said he had to throw a customer out of his store for not wearing a mask recently, lauded Trump for not wanting to create panic in the early stages of the outbreak in the U.S. He also recalled unprecedented runs on items such as toilet paper and paper towels when people realized the

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Many Americans blame virus crisis on US government

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans blame the U.S. government instead of foreign nations for the coronavirus crisis in the United States, a rebuke to the Trump administration’s contention that China or other countries are most at fault, a new poll shows.



The White House is seen in the background as sign of the National COVID-19 Remembrance, event at The Ellipse outside of the White House, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington. More Americans blame the U.S. government than foreign powers for the coronavirus crisis in United States, rejecting the Trump administration’s contention that China is most at fault for the spread of the disease. That's according to a new poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)


© Provided by Associated Press
The White House is seen in the background as sign of the National COVID-19 Remembrance, event at The Ellipse outside of the White House, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020, in Washington. More Americans blame the U.S. government than foreign powers for the coronavirus crisis in United States, rejecting the Trump administration’s contention that China is most at fault for the spread of the disease. That’s according to a new poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was conducted before President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus Friday and was hospitalized. Trump has downplayed the severity and impact of the pandemic in recent months.

Although many see plenty of blame to go around and there’s a wide bipartisan divide over who is responsible, 56% of Americans say the U.S. government has substantial responsibility for the situation. That compares with 47% who place that much blame on the governments of other countries and only 39% who say the same about the World Health Organization.

“It reflects a general lack of confidence in the way the government has handled the situation,” said Austin Wright of the Harris School for Public Policy.

More than 1 million people worldwide, including more than 200,000 Americans, have died of COVID-19 in the outbreak. Trump has squarely blamed the virus’ spread on China, where it originated, and an inadequate response from the WHO.

As he faces a rough reelection contest in November, Trump has steadily ramped up criticism of China for the virus and announced the U.S. would halt funding for and withdraw from the international health agency over alleged Chinese interference in its work. Critics, including public health experts, have said China bears some responsibility but have also harshly criticized Trump’s response.



A new UChicago Harris/AP-NORC poll finds Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the U.S. government has a great deal or quite a bit of responsibility for the current coronavirus situation in the U.S.


© Provided by Associated Press
A new UChicago Harris/AP-NORC poll finds Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the U.S. government has a great deal or quite a bit of responsibility for the current coronavirus situation in the U.S.

The poll shows Democrats are especially likely to say the U.S. government is responsible for the situation, while many Republicans are likely to place the blame elsewhere. Among Democrats, 79% say the U.S. government has a great deal of responsibility, while 37% say that about other countries’ governments and 27% about the WHO. Among Republicans, 38% say the U.S. government is responsible, compared with 60% for the governments of other countries and 55% the WHO.

Self-described conservative Republican Ralph Martinez, a 67-year-old grocery store manager from the Fort Worth, Texas

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Poll: Many Americans Blame Virus Crisis on US Government | Political News

By MATTHEW LEE, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans blame the U.S. government instead of foreign nations for the coronavirus crisis in the United States, a rebuke to the Trump administration’s contention that China or other countries are most at fault, a new poll shows.

The poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was conducted before President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus Friday and was hospitalized. Trump has downplayed the severity and impact of the pandemic in recent months.

Although many see plenty of blame to go around and there’s a wide bipartisan divide over who is responsible, 56% of Americans say the U.S. government has substantial responsibility for the situation. That compares with 47% who place that much blame on the governments of other countries and only 39% who say the same about the World Health Organization.

“It reflects a general lack of confidence in the way the government has handled the situation,” said Austin Wright of the Harris School for Public Policy.

More than 1 million people worldwide, including more than 200,000 Americans, have died of COVID-19 in the outbreak. Trump has squarely blamed the virus’ spread on China, where it originated, and an inadequate response from the WHO.

As he faces a rough reelection contest in November, Trump has steadily ramped up criticism of China for the virus and announced the U.S. would halt funding for and withdraw from the international health agency over alleged Chinese interference in its work. Critics, including public health experts, have said China bears some responsibility but have also harshly criticized Trump’s response.

The poll shows Democrats are especially likely to say the U.S. government is responsible for the situation, while many Republicans are likely to place the blame elsewhere. Among Democrats, 79% say the U.S. government has a great deal of responsibility, while 37% say that about other countries’ governments and 27% about the WHO. Among Republicans, 38% say the U.S. government is responsible, compared with 60% for the governments of other countries and 55% the WHO.

Self-described conservative Republican Ralph Martinez, a 67-year-old grocery store manager from the Fort Worth, Texas area, said he wasn’t sure that any government could have handled it better and dismissed criticism that Trump had downplayed the matter.

“It’s an open question, honestly,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in office, I think they’re going to do their best for everyone. But how much can they do?”

Martinez, who said he had to throw a customer out of his store for not wearing a mask recently, lauded Trump for not wanting to create panic in the early stages of the outbreak in the U.S. He also recalled unprecedented runs on items such as toilet paper and paper towels when people realized the virus was not a momentary phenomenon.

“You would not believe how crazy these people got,” he said. “I can’t imagine how bad it would have been

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Inside Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination that helped spread the virus across the US government

When guests arrived to the White House last Saturday for a triumphant event unveiling President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, their first stop was a small room in the White House basement.



a group of people in a garden: Judge Amy Coney Barrett walks to the microphone after President Donald Trump, right, announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26, 2020. Fr. John Jenkins can be seen seated in the right section, third row.


© Alex Brandon/AP
Judge Amy Coney Barrett walks to the microphone after President Donald Trump, right, announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26, 2020. Fr. John Jenkins can be seen seated in the right section, third row.

After providing their names, phone numbers and dates of birth, each was taken one-by-one by a staff member from the White House Medical Office to a smaller room nearby. The door was shut, and out came the swab.

One swirl in the right nostril, one swirl in the left. As their names were written on a paper sleeve to contain the sample, they were told: “No news is good news.”

So began what is now believed by many White House officials to be a nexus for contagion that resulted Friday in the positive tests of at least seven attendees, including the President himself, who is hospitalized in Maryland.

It is not known how or when Trump caught the infection that resulted in a positive test unveiled after midnight on Friday. But the string of people who attended last Saturday’s event — where few guests wore masks and social distancing was absent — was growing.

On Friday, Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Thom Tillis both said they had tested positive. They sat three seats apart in the second row during the ceremony, separated by other senators.

The President’s former counselor Kellyanne Conway said she, too, had become infected. She was seated directly behind the first lady.

The president of Notre Dame, where Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett teaches, was also diagnosed with coronavirus. He sat three seats away from Conway — right behind the nominees’ young children.

That is in addition to the President, the first lady and senior adviser Hope Hicks, all of whom tested positive last week.

Others who are close to the White House but did not attend Saturday’s event also announced positive tests, including Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who had spent time with the President at the end of last week, and Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, who participated in mask-less debate preparatory sessions at the White House last weekend. So did former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also helped Trump prepare for the debate.

On Saturday, Sen. Ron Johnson became the third Republican senator after Lee and Tillis to test positive — but he did not attend the ceremony on Saturday. Three members of the White House press corps also tested positive, according to the White House Correspondents Association.

The ceremony in the Rose Garden — and Trump’s Supreme Court nomination more broadly — were once viewed as the President’s best last chance to supplant coronavirus as this election’s dominant theme. Instead, the tightly packed ceremony became the best illustration

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