It comes nearly four months after Apple and Google said they were partnering on creating app-building software for public health agencies trying to contain the spread of the pandemic. Canada and a number of European countries have already rolled out apps using the tech companies’ framework.
11:25 a.m. Turkey’s interior ministry announced new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus after daily confirmed cases peaked back above 1,000.
The interior ministry says its units will conduct “one-on-one monitoring” for people who have been required to self-quarantine, especially in the first seven days of isolation.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu tweeted a widespread inspection will take place across Turkey Thursday. The ministry also says contact tracers will be assisted by law enforcement or teachers and imams in smaller settlements.
It says it won’t accept any violations of mask wearing and social distancing at events such as weddings or circumcision ceremonies. Gatherings after funerals will be restricted.
Businesses and transportation meeting safety requirements will be awarded a “safe space” logo after three inspections.
Latest statistics show nearly 235,000 confirmed infections and 5,765 deaths in Turkey.
11:37 a.m. Chicago’s mayor on Wednesday announced that the U.S.’s third-largest school district will not welcome students back to the classroom, after all, and will instead rely only on remote instruction to start the school year.
The city’s decision to abandon its plan to have students attend in-person classes for two days a week once the fall semester starts Sept. 8 came amid strong pushback from the powerful teachers union and as school districts around the country struggle with how to teach their children during the coronavirus pandemic.
When Chicago officials announced their hybrid-learning plan last month, they said it was subject to change depending on families’ feedback and how the coronavirus was faring in the area.
On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot attributed the change in plans to a recent uptick in confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city.
11:28 a.m. Quebec added 155 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total number of people infected to 60,000.
The province also added two deaths, for a total of 5,687 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Health Department reports two fewer patients in hospital for 167, with 19 of those in intensive care, also a reduction of two.
11:25 a.m. In South Carolina, hospitals and the state health department say demand for coronavirus testing remains high even as testing numbers have dipped in the last two weeks.
In some cases, people may be deterred by the long wait times at certain testing sites. Others forego the tests when their health insurance won’t cover them, says Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Cawley told a state legislative committee Tuesday insurance companies typically don’t pay for tests for asymptomatic patients. It’s one of the biggest barriers to people getting tested in the state, Cawley says.
Health officials announced 1,168 new confirmed cases and 52 confirmed deaths Tuesday. The state has reported 93,604 confirmed cases and 1,774 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
11:25 a.m. Arizona officials say 517 inmates at the state prison in Tucson tested positive Tuesday for the coronavirus.
The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry says nearly half of the prisoners housed at the Whetstone unit have tested positive for the virus. The cases among inmates in the prison’s Whetstone unit were discovered in a push to test all 39,000 state prisoners.
Officials say 564 corrections employees have tested positive for the virus
Before corrections officials discovered the cases at the Whetstone unit, the agency reported 890 other inmates had tested positive and 21 inmates had died statewide.
Arizona has 180,500 confirmed cases and more than 3,800 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
11:23 a.m. The federal government is moving ahead with plans to make it easier for provinces and territories to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure projects to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.
Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says $3.3 billion out of the $33 billion that Ottawa has previously promised in matching funds for provincial and territorial projects will be available for projects related to the pandemic.
Those projects include retrofits to public buildings such as schools and long-term care facilities, measures related to physical distancing such as new bike and walking paths and those designed to protect against floods and wildfires.
McKenna says the federal government plans to introduce a faster application process for provinces and territories to apply for federal funds, with Ottawa footing up to 80 per cent of the bills for approved projects.
The new approach comes as most provinces are looking at re-opening schools in the next month and trying to guard against new outbreaks of COVID-19 at nursing homes.
While the measure is expected to be welcomed by provinces and territories, each must sign an agreement with the federal government before it can apply for funding.
10:30 a.m. For the third consecutive day and fifth time in the last week, Ontario is reporting fewer than 100 cases of COVID-19, with 86 new cases today, a 0.2% increase, Health Minister Christine Elliott reported on Twitter. With 146 more resolved, we also continue to see a persistent decline in the number of active cases in the province. Hospitalizations continue to decline. Locally, 29 of the province’s 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with fully 22 of them reporting no new cases at all.
10:28 a.m. An antibody study by Quebec’s blood collection agency has concluded that about 2.23 per cent of the province’s adult blood donors had contracted COVID-19.
The seroprevalence study by Hema-Quebec and the province’s public health institute tested the blood of 7,691 people between the ages of 18 and 69 who donated blood between May 25 and July 9.
When extrapolated to the rest of the population, the study estimated that some 124,800 adults contracted the virus since the pandemic began.
The Quebec government reported some 37,000 cases for the 20 to 69 age group in the same period.
The study revealed that the highest rates of infection were found in Montreal and Laval, with just over three per cent, while in most of the rest of the province the rate was much lower at 1.29 per cent.
Authorities will contact the donors who had COVID-19 antibodies to document their symptoms in order to estimate how many of them were asymptomatic.
10:11 a.m. A provincial supreme court judge says a civil rights group can participate in a court challenge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 travel ban, but not make arguments about enforcement measures.
Justice Donald Burrage rendered his decision today in St. John’s on the second day of proceedings.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a claim along with Halifax resident Kim Taylor in May that alleges the restrictions violate the charter and fall outside the province’s jurisdiction.
Burrage granted the association public interest standing to make legal arguments about the ban itself.
The special measures order from the province’s chief medical officer of health in May banned anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic essential workers from entering the province.
But Burrage denied the group standing to challenge changes to the province’s Public Health Protection and Promotion Act, also adopted in May, that allows peace officers to detain and transport people to exit points in the province and expands their search powers.
A lawyer for the province argued Tuesday that there is no evidence related to the enforcement powers because they have not been applied to anyone, including Taylor.
The association’s lawyer, however, said the measures are unconstitutional on their face.
The province has defended the ban as being necessary to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
10 a.m. Canada is signing deals with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and U.S.-based biotech firm Moderna to procure millions of doses of their experimental COVID-19 vaccines.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand is announcing the deals this morning in Toronto, which will see Canada get access to the vaccines if they prove to be both safe and effective.
Both companies began Phase 3 clinical trials of their vaccine candidates in the last week, large-scale tests to determine how well the vaccines work.
Earlier in July both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials.
The Phase 3 trials will both test the vaccines on 30,000 people, and results are expected in the fall.
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam warned Tuesday about expecting a vaccine to provide a quick end to the pandemic, saying they provide hope but likely no silver bullet for the novel coronavirus.
9:47 a.m. Pfizer Canada and BioNTech SE have announced an agreement with the government of Canada to supply their BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV2, subject to clinical success and Health Canada approval.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the terms were based on the timing of delivery and the volume of doses. As requested by the Government of Canada, deliveries of the vaccine candidate are planned for over the course of 2021.
“We continue to be committed to partnering with the Canadian government to help fight this pandemic and are pleased with their collaborative approach to addressing a national COVID-19 immunization strategy with public health officials,” said Cole C. Pinnow, President, Pfizer Canada. “With our combined efforts, we know there is no health challenge that we cannot address.”
“As the development of effective COVID-19 vaccines continues around the world, we commend the work of Pfizer and BioNTech, which will provide Canadians access to a vaccine candidate for the virus. This agreement is another critical step in our government’s efforts to keep Canadians safe and healthy as the pandemic continues to evolve,” said Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement.
9 a.m. The Star has found that Transport Canada is relying on scant peer-reviewed scientific evidence regarding the spread of COVID-19 on airplanes in its decision not to mandate social distancing on commercial flights.
When asked for the scientific evidence guiding its recommendations to airlines, Transport Canada initially provided none, saying only that safety measures are “based on the best available science and evidence.”
When pressed by the Star for that evidence, the agency provided just one peer-reviewed study looking at an outbreak of COVID-19 that affected 16 passengers on a flight from Singapore to Hangzhou, China, in late January. The study concluded that one passenger may have become infected on the flight.
Read the full story from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace: Is flying safe during COVID-19? Here’s the scant bit of scientific evidence Transport Canada is relying on
8:52 a.m. The Netherlands’ two most populous cities began ordering people to wear face masks in busy streets Wednesday amid rising coronavirus infection rates, but many people in the Dutch capital’s famous red-light district still did not wear them.
Police in Rotterdam said a number of people opposed to the mask order staged a protest in the downtown area where masks became obligatory.
Amsterdam ordered masks to be worn in the red-light district and busy shopping streets and markets. Many visitors to the narrow lanes and canal-side roads of the historic neighbourhood ignored the instructions, despite signs informing people of the new measure.
Municipality workers stood at the entrance to one downtown Amsterdam shopping street wearing signs saying in Dutch and English that masks were required and handing them out to people who didn’t have one.
The Dutch capital’s local health authority said around 5% of people who got a test over the last week were positive, more than double the 2% from the previous week.
Among clusters being tracked in the city was one at a strip club in the red-light district where at least one customer and 10 staff have tested positive, according to a statement from the health authority. The owner voluntarily closed the club.
8:46 a.m. Lockdown restrictions have been reimposed in the Scottish city of Aberdeen after a coronavirus “cluster” was reported.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says all hospitality venues in the city need to be closed by end of business Wednesday. Those living in the area should not travel more than five miles unless for work or essential trips. People are asked not to go into other houses.
Sturgeon says the cluster of 54 cases have been traced to a bar but more than 20 other pubs and restaurants are involved. The rise in cases has contributed to a greater concern there was a significant outbreak in the city.
The restrictions will be reviewed next Wednesday and may be extended, if necessary.
8:46 a.m. New Zealand’s unemployment rate showed a surprising improvement to 4% during the midst of the nation’s virus lockdown, although the headline number doesn’t tell the full story and joblessness is likely to increase in the months ahead.
Still, the figure was far better than most people expected and came as welcome news to the government led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ahead of a general election next month.
The figures from Statistics New Zealand showed the unemployment rate in the quarter ending June fell from 4.2% in the previous quarter. But the number of hours worked also fell a record 10% and the number of people not in the labour force rose.
Because people who aren’t actively seeking work are not counted as unemployed, the figures didn’t reflect many job losses because most people couldn’t search for jobs during the lockdown. And many workers have been protected by a government-funded wage subsidy scheme during the pandemic which is due to expire next month.
8:46 a.m. A governor in Japan is drawing skeptical criticism after he touted a gargling product as effective against the coronavirus, an assertion that, despite its dubiousness, emptied some store shelves of the medicine.
Shares of Shionogi & Co. and Meiji Holdings Co., which make Isojin, soared in Tokyo Tuesday trading after Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura made the comments.
Yoshimura referred to a study carried out by the Osaka regional government on a sample of just 41 people. Experts said such a study is inconclusive.
Shionogi and Meiji shares were already coming down Wednesday, as subsequent Japanese media reports debunked Yoshimura’s claim.
Daily confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been shooting up in Japan, to more than 1,000 people.
8:46 a.m. Mexico posted a near-record one-day total of 857 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, bringing the country’s confirmed death toll to 48,869, the third-highest number in the world.
The Health Department reported that just over 1 million coronavirus tests have been performed, with almost 450,000 people testing positive to date.
Mexico’s has had a positive rate of about 45% to 50% since the early weeks of the pandemic, largely because most people were tested only after exhibiting considerable symptoms.
8:46 a.m. Hong Hong has reported 80 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths, while new cases in mainland China fell to just 27.
Hong Kong saw cases spike in a new wave of infections, but new daily cases have now fallen back into the double digits.
Authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city have ordered masks be worn in all public places, slapped restrictions on indoor dining, banned many activities and increased testing for coronavirus. Hong Kong has recorded a total of 3,669 cases and 42 deaths from COVID-19.
Of mainland China’s cases, 22 were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose capital and largest city Urumqi has been the centre of China’s latest outbreak. China has reported 4,634 deaths among 84,491 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
China said Tuesday it was working with the World Health Organization on an investigation into the origins of the novel coronavirus, but gave no word on when that would get underway.
8:46 a.m. Nevada health officials say 95% of the 980 new coronavirus cases reported statewide during the last day were in the Las Vegas area.
State coronavirus response officials said Tuesday that Clark County residents accounted for 931 of the positive COVID-19 tests reported. Confirmed cases statewide topped 52,000, and 15 more deaths brought Nevada’s total to at least 862.
Separately, the governor’s office issued a report tallying $16.7 billion in federal coronavirus funding to Nevada since Congress approved a $2.2 trillion emergency aid bill in March.
The report says nearly $2.2 billion went toward $600-per-week payments to idled workers statewide.
8:46 a.m. President Donald Trump says more Americans will be lost to COVID-19.
Trump was interviewed on a Fox Business Network on Tuesday. Trump said the relationship has been “very badly hurt” by the spread of the coronavirus and he repeated his belief China should have contained it.
The president noted the American death toll, saying somewhat prematurely that 160,000 had died from the disease caused by the virus. He told host Lou Dobbs: “We’re going to lose more.”
Trump added that millions would have been lost had he not intervened and “just let it ride.’
The U.S. death told from COVID-19 stood at more than 156,000 on Tuesday evening.
8:46 a.m. A technical problem has caused a lag in California’s tally of coronavirus test results, casting doubt on the accuracy of recent data showing improvements in the infection rate and hindering efforts to track the spread.
State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that in recent days California has not been receiving a full count through electronic lab reports because of the unresolved issue.
The state’s data page now carries a disclaimer saying the numbers represent an underreporting of actual positive cases per day.
The latest daily tally posted Tuesday showed 4,526 new confirmed positives, the lowest in more than six weeks.
7:18 a.m. A cruise ship carrying more than 200 people docked in a Norwegian harbour Wednesday and ordered to keep everyone on board after a passenger from a previous trip tested positive for the coronavirus upon returning home to Denmark.
Bodoe Mayor Ida Pinneroed told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the SeaDream 1’s 85 crew members would all be tested for the virus and that authorities were in contact with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health on whether the 123 passengers should be as well.
“We take the situation very seriously,” the mayor said.
The Norway-based company that owns the ship, SeaDream Yacht Club, said the former passenger had no symptoms of COVID-19 during the earlier voyage and had travelled home from Tromsoe on Aug. 2. The person underwent a routine virus test upon arrival in Denmark and it came back positive on Tuesday.
All the other passengers from the infected individual’s trip must self-isolate for 10 days, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said.
7:13 a.m. The World Health Organization is sending dozens of senior experts to South Africa to help the nation deal with the world’s fifth-highest number of coronavirus infections.
South Africa has more than half-a-million confirmed COVID-19 cases and expects the first wave of infections to peak around the end of August, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters. The WHO is responding to a request for help by sending 43 specialists, with several arriving Wednesday, he said.
While South Africa has had reduced hospital admissions in recent weeks and its official virus death toll of 8,884 people is relatively low, medical researchers have found a discrepancy between the country’s confirmed COVID-19 fatalities and the number of excess natural deaths.
6:57 a.m. Australia’s hot spot Victoria state announced a record 725 COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths on Wednesday, while businesses in Melbourne city prepared to draw down their shutters as new pandemic restrictions are enforced.
The 24-hour record was marginally higher than the 723 cases and 13 deaths reported last Thursday.
From late Wednesday, many non-essential businesses including most detail retailers, hair-dressers and gyms in Australia’s second-largest city will be closed for six weeks. People employed in essential jobs will have to carry passes under Australia’s toughest-ever lockdown restrictions.
Like Melbourne hospitals, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews announced that non-emergency surgeries will be restricted in hospitals in regional Victoria, where infections rates are lower.
“It will be very challenging, but it is necessary to drive these numbers down,” Andrews said of the new restrictions.
He added that the “notion of more than 700 cases is not sustainable.”
A Victoria state government website crashed on Wednesday when it was overwhelmed by employees in essential services applying for permits that would allow them to leave home for work from Thursday.
6:57 a.m. India has reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for an eighth straight day, taking the country’s number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began past 1.9 million. The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported a spike of 52,509 new cases and 857 new deaths in the past 24 hours. The ministry said India’s recovery rate among COVID-19 patients has touched 66.31%. It also said a record 661,892 samples were tested in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative testing to more than 2 million. It also said that 50% of deaths have happened in the age group of 60 years and above, 37% deaths in 45-60 age group while 11% in 26-44 years age group. In the gender distribution, 68% of people who died were men and 32% women.
6:47 a.m. Novavax Inc. shares saw huge swings in extended trading as investors took a critical eye to early data on its experimental vaccine for COVID-19 following a 3,800-percent rally in the stock this year.
The shares briefly fell as much as 34 per cent postmarket on Tuesday, before paring the decline. In trading before regular hours Wednesday, they were up 21 per cent.
The two-injection regimen when administered concurrently with Novavax’s immune-boosting technology generated antibody responses that were four times higher than those seen in people who had recovered from the disease. Some of the healthy adults in the study experienced side effects including fever, headache and fatigue.
Confusion over the vaccine’s safety data arose after a media report incorrectly said trial participants were hospitalized with severe reactions. The vaccine appeared safe in the more than 100 patients who received it, according to the company. Reactions to the shots were generally mild, lasting two days or less. One patient getting the vaccine had a mild skin infection that was determined not to be related to the shot.
6:03 a.m. Poland reported 18 new coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, the most in a day since June 30, taking the total to 1,756 as an outbreak in the country’s industrial heartland worsens.
The pace of new cases slowed from Tuesday’s record 680, rising by 640 to 48,789, mostly in the southern coal mining region of Silesia and at a poultry processing company in the western district of Wielkopolska.
The government expects about 600 new cases per day in the next period, Wojciech Andrusiewicz, a spokesman for the health ministry told reporters on Wednesday. Authorities will soon announce new restrictions, including on restaurants and weddings, to fight the epidemic in 20 particularly affected counties, he said.
4:10 a.m. Nearly half of Canadians would support an election being called if the federal watchdog finds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to have violated the Conflict of Interest Act again over the WE charity affair, a new poll suggests.
The survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies also suggests the WE controversy has taken a bite out of Trudeau’s popularity, as well as that of the federal Liberal party, putting the Conservatives within striking distance of victory.
“To me these are numbers that will certainly worry or concern the Liberals at this moment because even though it’s in the summer, this is raising a lot of eyebrows,” said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.
The online poll of 1,531 adult Canadians took place July 31 to Aug. 2, in the days following Trudeau’s appearance before a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the deal with WE. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered truly random.
The survey results come as federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion is investigating both Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau over whether they broke conflict-of-interest rules in relation to the government’s decision to give the WE organization a sole-sourced contract to run a $912-million student-volunteer program.
4 a.m. A Canadian company is telling the government Wednesday that its trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine on animals completely blocked the virus, but it must conduct human trials to know whether it has found a possible cure for the pandemic.
And a leading health-care expert says the findings are promising even though they haven’t been peer-reviewed.
Providence Therapeutics says it needs federal funding to move forward, but it has not heard back from the Trudeau government since May, the month after submitting a $35-million proposal to conduct first-stage human trials.
Providence has told the government it could deliver five million doses of its new vaccine by mid-2021 for use in Canada if it were able to successfully complete human testing, but it has heard nothing.
Eric Marcusson, the San Francisco-based co-founder of Providence and its chief science officer, says the company has concluded testing on mice that showed its vaccine was able to block the entry of the novel coronavirus into their cells.
4 a.m. Wednesday A new study suggests Canadians, especially women, will face a potentially explosive increase in mental illness for years after the COVID-19 pandemic is finally over.
Over the long term, the Deloitte study estimates that visits to emergency rooms for stress and anxiety-related disorders will increase one to three per cent from pre-pandemic rates.
Moreover, the study estimates that 6.3 million to 10.7 million Canadians will visit a doctor for mental health issues — a whopping 54 to 163 per cent increase over pre-pandemic levels.
The consulting firm says governments should be funding mental health services, providers should be getting ready for the demand and insurance companies should look at revising coverage options.
The estimates are based on an analysis of what transpired in the years following the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016, which forced the evacuation of 88,000 people and destroyed more than 2,400 homes in Alberta.
It’s also based on an analysis of the long-term impact on Canadians of the “great recession” of 2008-09, a global economic crash that was nowhere near as deep or as long-lasting as the expected impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Wednesday 12:05 a.m. The Walt Disney Company lost nearly $5 billion (U.S.) in April, May and June, while its theme parks were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a presentation Disney executives made Tuesday.
It cost the company $3.5 billion (U.S.) just to close the parks during the third quarter, on top of the $1 billion (U.S.) it cost to shut them down the second half of March.
In all, the company posted a loss of nearly $5 billion (U.S.) for the third quarter, including a $2 billion (U.S.) loss in its parks, experiences and products segment.
Disney’s domestic parks — Disney World and Disneyland, as well as Disneyland Paris, resorts and cruise operations were closed for the entirety of the quarter and the final two weeks of the previous quarter.
“This is obviously a very uncertain time,” CEO Bob Chapek said during an earnings webcast Tuesday. “We should be in good shape once consumer confidence returns.”
7:30 p.m.: British Columbia health minister is urging residents not to attend private parties and gatherings after recent increases in the number of COVID-19 cases across the province.
Health Minister Adrian Dix says many of the latest cases stem from such events and the numbers serve as a reminder that people must adhere to public health rules this summer.
B.C.’s top doctor Bonnie Henry says transmission remains low and residents must ensure it stays that way.
She says common factors in many of the latest cases include talking, laughing and sharing drinks and food, especially in indoor settings, as well as spending time in crowded areas.
During a briefing on Tuesday, Henry reported that 146 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected since Friday and there have been no additional deaths.
Active cases have climbed to 319, while 3,273 people have recovered from the illness.
5:45 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 41,682 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,820 deaths, up 125 new infections in 24 hours.
The provincewide case growth included a spike in Chatham-Kent, which on Tuesday reported 40 new cases for the three days of the Civic Holiday long weekend.
Along with neighbouring Southwestern Public Health, Chatham-Kent is one of two Ontario health units that is currently seeing its highest rate of case growth since the start of the pandemic.
Elsewhere, cases continue to fall, and the province is overall at its lowest rate of new infections since well before the pandemic first peaked in Ontario in the spring.
Ontario has averaged 98 cases per day over the last seven days, down from a peak of nearly 600 daily, seen in mid-April.
Meanwhile, three more fatal cases were reported, two in Toronto and one in Simcoe-Muskoka.
The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.
The province cautions its separate data, published daily at 10:30 a.m., may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”
Read Tuesday’s rolling file
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