Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya says punishment awaited her back home

WATCH: Tokyo Olympics: Sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya seeks asylum in Poland amid standoff with Belarus.

Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who plans to seek refuge in Europe after accusing team officials of trying to force her to leave the Tokyo Games early, said Tuesday that officials from her country “made it clear” she would face punishment if she returned home.

Tsimanouskaya, who had criticized the management of her team on social media, said officials hustled her to the airport and tried to put her on a plane back to Belarus, where the autocratic government has relentlessly stifled dissent and any criticism. She said she hopes to continue her career, but for now her safety remains a priority.

In the dramatic standoff, several countries offered her help, and Poland granted her a humanitarian visa Monday. She plans to fly to Warsaw later in the week, according to an activist group that is helping her.

Read more:
IOC probing case of Belarusian sprinter, awaiting report from country’s Olympic body

“They made it clear that upon return home I would definitely face some form of punishment,” the 24-year-old sprinter told The Associated Press in a videocall interview. “There were also thinly disguised hints that more would await me.”

She added that she believed she would be kicked off of the national team. She hopes to be able to continue running once she has reached safety.

“For now I just want to safely arrive in Europe … meet with people who have been helping me and make a decision what to do next,” Tsimanouskaya said in the interview.

“I would very much like to continue my sporting career because I’m just 24 and I had plans for two more Olympics at least,” she said. “For now, the only thing that concerns me is my safety.”

The standoff began after Tsimanouskaya’s criticism of how officials were managing her team set off a massive backlash in state-run media back home. The runner said on her Instagram account that she was put in the 4×400 relay even though she has never raced in the event. She was then barred from competing in the 200 meters.

Tsimanouskaya waged — and lost — a legal fight to run in that race. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said in a statement that it denied Tsimanouskaya’s request for an interim ruling that would have allowed her to run at the Olympic Stadium on Monday. The heats were held in the morning and the semifinals were in the evening.

Read more:
Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya seeks asylum in Poland amid standoff with Belarus

On Tuesday, Tsimanouskaya called for an investigation and “possibly taking sanctions against the head coach who approached me and who deprived me of the right to compete in the Olympic Games.” She said she wanted international sports authorities “to investigate the situation, who gave the order, who actually took the decision that I can’t compete anymore.”

At the same time, she said that “the athletes aren’t guilty of anything and they should keep competing, and I don’t think there should be any sanctions against the athletes.”

Read more:
‘I will not return’: Belarusian Olympian says she was taken to airport against her wishes

The rapid-fire series of events brought international political intrigue to an Olympics that have been more focused on operational dramas, like maintaining safety during a pandemic and navigating widespread Japanese opposition to holding the event at all.

Belarus’ authoritarian government has relentlessly targeted anyone even mildly expressing dissent since a presidential election a year ago triggered a wave of unprecedented mass protests. And it has also gone to extremes to stop its critics, including recently diverting a plane to the capital of Minsk and arresting a dissident journalist aboard.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

'Get tested' for COVID-19 even if you're fully vaccinated, Fauci says as Delta variant rages

WATCH: Fauci says to ‘get tested’ for COVID-19 even if fully vaccinated as Delta variant rages

As health officials warn of an imminent 4th wave of Delta-driven COVID-19 infections, America’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is stressing the importance of getting tested for the virus — even if you are fully vaccinated.

“We used to say if you’re vaccinated and you come into contact with an infected person, you don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to test. You don’t need to isolate,” Fauci said during an interview with Global News reporter Jackson Proskow. “Now, that’s changed. Now, the recommendation is that you should be tested even if you’re vaccinated.”

Fauci’s comments come on the heels of a new study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which warns that the Delta COVID-19 variant could be as contagious as the chickenpox, and a report that points to a chain of outbreaks among vaccinated individuals.

The Delta variant, first detected in India, is “substantially more efficient in transmitting from person to person” when compared to other variants, and “no vaccine is 100 percent effective,” Fauci explained.

“When you measure the level of virus in the nasal pharynx of a vaccinated person who has a breakthrough infection with Delta,” Fauci said, the detected virus level is “high and equivalent to the level of virus in the nasal pharynx of an unvaccinated person.”

Read more:
Does Delta COVID-19 variant make you sicker? Doctors probing amid ‘wildfire’ spread

That is not the case with other variants.

For instance, the level of virus found in the nasal pharynx of a vaccinated individual who happens to be infected with the Alpha variant is much lower than that of an unvaccinated person.

This “strongly” suggests that the Delta variant’s ability to transmit is unhindered by an individual’s vaccination status, Fauci said.

“It is very clear now that can transmit the infection to others.”

Last week, the U.S. CDC recommended that fully vaccinated Americans should go back to wearing masks in indoor public places in regions where the coronavirus — and especially the Delta variant — are spreading rapidly.

The change marked a reversal of the agency’s earlier announcement in May that motivated millions of vaccinated Americans to drop their face coverings.

Dr. David Doudy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, said the CDC guidance was motivated by a change in infection patterns.

“We’re seeing this doubling in the number of cases every 10 days or so,” he said.

The CDC said that 63 per cent of U.S. counties had high transmission rates that warranted mask-wearing.

New cases per day in the U.S. have increased six-fold over the past month to an average of nearly 80,000, a level not seen since mid-February. And deaths per day have climbed over the past two weeks from an average of 259 to 360.

Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at Colorado’s UCHealth said research from China suggests the Delta variant replicates much faster and generates 1,000 times more virus in the body compared to the original coronavirus strain, highlighting the biggest danger of this new wave.

“This is like a wildfire, this is not a smoldering campfire. It is full-on flames right now,” Barron said.

Other doctors said patients infected with Delta appeared to become ill faster, and sometimes showed more severe symptoms, than those they treated earlier in the pandemic.

“We are seeing more patients requiring oxygen sooner,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer at American Family Care, a 28-state chain of urgent care clinics.

At his clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow recorded 20 per cent of the patients testing positive for COVID-19, compared with the two-to-three per cent a few weeks ago.

David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said the Delta variant is more infectious and leads to faster onset of illness.

“Frankly there’s a severity that comes from this variant that is a little more severe,” Montefiori said on a webcast last week. “It’s not just easier to transmit, it makes you sicker.”

Fauci reiterated the same.

“It’s just a very dominant variant,” he told Global News. “It’s already in over one hundred and twelve countries. So the horse is out of the barn, as it were.”

“Wherever Delta has been, it invariably is so efficient in transmitting from person to person that it always seems to push out the other variants and become dominant,” Fauci explained. “We’ve seen that in the United States. A few months ago it was two, three or so percent. Then it went up to 20, then 50, then 80, and now it’s close to 90 percent.”

Read more:
Canada’s Delta-driven 4th wave of COVID-19 will be ‘different’ amid vaccinations: experts

Nevertheless, Fauci is optimistic.

He said adaption is key when it comes to dealing with this ever-evolving virus.

“ the science evolves, the evidence evolves,” he said. “Your approach and your guidelines and your recommendations need to evolve. And that’s exactly what happened in the United States with the change in the CDC guidelines.”

Canadian experts too are optimistic. However, they don’t think that a Delta-driven 4th wave would be as big as the previous ones given Canada’s current vaccinations rates.

Even with the country’s rise in cases, Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University said that the virus would primarily affect unvaccinated communities, highlighting the fact that over 97 per cent of all new cases in Canada were among those who did not get a jab.

Canada added at least another 218 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total infections to 1,431,219. Two additional deaths were reported as well, with the country’s overall death toll now standing at 26,600. Over 1.39 million people have recovered from the coronavirus and more than 49.5 million vaccinations have been doled out so far.

Read more:
CDC now recommends fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in some places

Dr. Ronald St John, former WHO director for the Americas and national manager for Canada’s response to SARS, also expressed caution when interpreting the findings of the internal CDC report.

Speaking on the Roy Green show, he mentioned that the data in the report was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

“How often spread, the frequency of spread — that’s what’s not clear to me in the data that’s been presented so far,” he said. “I think it’s just been an internal document that’s been spread around. So I’m waiting to see a little more data.”

-With files from Global News’ David Lao and Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kitchener driver charged after 1 killed, 4 hurt in two-vehicle crash near Elora, Ont.

ELORA, Ont. — A 24-year-old man has been charged in a crash near Elora, Ont., that killed a man and injured several others.

Provincial police say the accused, who is from Kitchener, Ont., was driving one of two vehicles that collided on Sunday night.

He’s been charged with dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, and also faces a charge under the Highway Traffic Act of driving while under suspension.

Read more:
1 dead, 4 injured after 2-vehicle crash near Elora, Ont.

The crash, involving a coupe and an SUV, happened just before 10 p.m. Sunday on Wellington Road 21 near the Eighth Line of Centre Wellington Township.

Police say the 25-year-old man who was killed had been a passenger in the coupe. He died at the scene.

Two other passengers in the coupe suffered serious injuries, while police say the two drivers were treated for minor injuries.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

Simone Biles wins bronze in Olympic balance beam, Ellie Black finishes 4th

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles won the bronze medal after returning to Olympic competition in the balance beam, after sitting out most other gymnastic events over the last week.

Biles won with a score of 14.000. The two top medals were won by athletes from China. Guan Chenchen won gold with a score of 14.633, and her teammate Tang Xijing won silver.

Read more:
Simone Biles to compete in balance beam, after sitting out other Olympic events

Canada’s Ellie Black came in fourth place, with a score of 13.866. Black was recovering from an ankle injury sustained during practice a week earlier, which had caused her to miss last week’s all-around competition.

Read more:
Ellie Black will compete on balance beam, after injury during Olympic training

Biles withdrew from the Olympic team competition last week after doing a single vault, saying that her performance was off and she did not want to jeopardize her teammates’ chances at a medal.

She also discussed experiencing “the twisties” and needing time to deal with her mental health. “I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” she said.

Biles won four gold medals and one bronze at the Rio Olympics, and has a silver from the team competition in Tokyo.

-with files from Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

While you were sleeping: How Canada performed at Tokyo Olympics Monday, Tuesday

WATCH: Canada just misses podium in women's team pursuit

Canadian athletes managed to qualify for further events in track and field at the Tokyo Olympics Tuesday, but missed out on medals in the day’s canoe, kayak and sailing events.

Here’s what you may have missed from the day of competition.

Read more:
Olympics medal count: Here’s who won the most medals during the Tokyo Games

Athletics

Fresh off his bronze medal win in the 100-metre dash over the weekend, Andre De Grasse proved he’s not done in Tokyo after placing third in his qualifying heat of the men’s 200-metre sprint.

Fellow Canadian Aaron Brown did even better, finishing first in his heat. Both Brown and De Grasse are set to race in the semifinals later Tuesday morning.

Brendon Rodney placed sixth in his own qualifying heat and did not join De Grasse and Brown in the next round.

Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed and Justyn Knight are both through to the men’s 5000-metre finals on Friday, after qualifying in the semifinals.

Kyra Constantine’s fifth-place finish in her heat of the women’s 400-metre qualifiers was fast enough for her to move into Wednesday’s semifinals. She won’t be joined by Natassha McDonald, however, who finished last in her heat.

Elizabeth Gleadle missed out on the women’s javelin throw final after placing 11th in the qualifying round.

Cycling Track

The women’s team of Allison Beveridge, Jasmin Duehring, Annie Foreman-Mackey and Georgia Simmerling defeated the French team in their first round heat.

Their time qualified the team for the bronze medal race later in the day against the United States, which they lost for a fourth-place position in the final rankings.

Vincent de Haitre, Michael Foley, Derek Gee and Jay Lamoureux of the men’s team managed to defeat Germany in their own first round heat. The final round of the men’s races will take place Wednesday.

Canoe Sprint

Andreanne Langlois managed to qualify for the final of the women’s single kayak 200-metre sprint after placing third in the semifinals, but came in last in the gold medal race.

The team of Roland Varga and Connor Fitzpatrick managed a sixth-place finish in the men’s double canoe 1,000-metre final, after also placing third in their semifinal round earlier in the day.

Michelle Russell placed seventh in her single kayak 200-metre semifinal race and was relegated to the non-medal “petite” final, where she tied for fourth with Serbia.

Sailing

Tom Ramshaw finished seventh in the final race of the men’s one-person heavyweight finn dinghy event, but placed 10th in the overall rankings.

Gymnastics

Ellie Black, who was coming off an ankle injury, finished in fourth place in the balance beam event. Two athletes from China won gold and silver, and the American gymnast Simone Biles won bronze.

Read more:
Simone Biles wins bronze in Olympic balance beam, Ellie Black finishes 4th

Volleyball

The men’s team was knocked out of the competition by Russia in a 3-0 quarterfinal bout, ending Canada’s quest for a medal.

Water Polo

The United States defeated the Canadian women’s team 16-5 in the quarterfinal, sending Canada to a fifth-to-eighth placing match that will take place on Thursday.

More to come…

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

RCMP investigate deadly crash on Parkland County highway

The RCMP said it is investigating a fatal collision that occurred on Highway 16A in Parkland County on Monday.

Police did not say when the crash happened or how many vehicles were involved but said it unfolded near Range Road 20.

In a news release issued shortly after 8 p.m., the RCMP said traffic was being rerouted around the site of the crash to allow rescue crews and investigators to do their work

They did not say when the highway was expected to reopen.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

1 person dead, another hospitalized after home broken into in central Alberta

The RCMP is investigating a break-in at a home in rural central Alberta that left one person dead and another injured on Monday night.

Police said officers were called to a break and enter that was in progress at a residence off of C and E Trail in Red Deer County at 3:11 p.m.

“Upon arrival, police discovered that the homeowner had sustained injuries and another male in the residence had sustained a gunshot wound,” the RCMP said in a news release. “EMS attended and pronounced the male with the gunshot wound as deceased.

“The homeowner was transported to the hospital where he is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.”

Police did not say if they have any suspects in the break-in or if they have made any arrests. However, they noted “there is no ongoing danger to the public.”

The RCMP said its major crimes unit has been called in to take over the investigation.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Japan to only hospitalize seriously ill COVID-19 cases as medical system strains

WATCH: Tokyo's spike in COVID-19 cases 'not a problem' for Olympics: Japan PM

Japan will focus on hospitalizing patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19 and those at risk of becoming so while others isolate at home, officials said, amid worries about a strained medical system as cases surge in Olympics host city Tokyo.

The country has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases, and is recording more than 10,000 daily new infections nationwide. Tokyo had a record high of 4,058 on Saturday.

Fewer elderly people, most of whom are vaccinated, are getting infected, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters.

“On the other hand, infections of younger people are increasing and people in their 40s and 50s with severe symptoms are rising,” he said. “With people also being admitted to hospital with heat stroke, some people are not able to immediately get admitted and are recovering at home.”

Read more:
COVID-19 resurgence hits Asia as Tokyo, Thailand and Malaysia post record cases

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, announcing the change on Monday, said the government would ensure that people isolating at home can be hospitalized if necessary.

Previous policy had focused on hospitalizing a broader category of high-risk patients.

Some worry the shift could lead to more deaths, and opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano blasted change.

“They call it in-home treatment but it’s actually in-home abandonment,” NHK public TV quoted him as saying.

Japan on Monday expanded its state of emergency to include three prefectures near Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka. An existing emergency in Tokyo – its fourth since the pandemic began – and Okinawa is now set to last through Aug. 31.

The country has avoided a devastating outbreak of the virus, with about 932,000 total cases and just over 15,000 deaths as of Sunday.

But it is now struggling to contain the highly transmissible Delta variant even as the public grows weary of mostly voluntary limits on their activities and the vaccination rollout lags.

Just under 30% of the population is fully vaccinated, including three-quarters of those 65 and over.

Nearly 70% of hospital beds for seriously ill COVID-19 patients were filled as of Sunday, Tokyo data showed.

According to health ministry guidelines, seriously ill patients are defined as those needing admission to Intensive Care Units (ICU) or artificial respirators.

Read more:
Tokyo’s daily COVID-19 infections hit record high as Olympics continue

The Tokyo Shimbun newspaper said 12,000 patients were isolating at home, a 12-fold increase in the past month.

Suga and Olympics organizers say there is no link between the July 23-Aug. 8 Summer Games and the sharp increase in cases. Medical experts, however, have said holding the Olympics sent a confusing message about the need to stay home, contributing to the rise.

Unlike the voluntary restrictions and low vaccination rates elsewhere in Japan, more than 80% of the people in the Olympic village in Tokyo for athletes and coaches are vaccinated, testing is compulsory and movement is curtailed.

Organizers on Tuesday announced 18 new Games-related COVID-19 cases, bringing the total since July 1 to 294.

(Additional reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Kaori Kaneko. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

© 2021 Reuters

Calgary councillor pushing for emergency council meeting on COVID-19 data

WATCH ABOVE: With provincial health measures set to roll back on Aug. 16, there are concerns a lack of testing will lead to a lack of COVID-19 data. As Adam MacVicar reports, Calgary city councillors are weighing the options available for measures of their own.

With Alberta’s health measures set to be scaled back in two weeks, a Calgary city councillor wants her colleagues to step up to look into what options the City of Calgary has in terms of its own health measures.

Testing and isolation requirements implemented by the province during the COVID-19 pandemic are among the health protocols being lifted on Aug. 16.

“That data is essential. That data is all we have,” University of Calgary developmental biologist Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz said.

“If we know how fast the virus is growing, we know how fast we should react.”

Speaking at a fourth-straight day of protests against the public health changes outside McDougall Centre in Calgary, Ward 3 councillor and mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek said she’d like to see the city take action on COVID-19 data collection and to look at other options.

“We’re not doctors but we are in fact able to understand what the evidence and the data is telling us,” Gondek said.

“To deny the public, and to deny policymakers access to the data is a big mistake.”

In lieu of COVID-19 testing data, Gondek is calling on the city to begin daily updates through Calgary’s emergency management agency to share data through the University of Calgary’s wastewater sample testing.

Read more:
How your sewage could help track coronavirus in your neighbourhood

The sampling and testing of wastewater began in July 2020, and researchers said the samples can detect areas with a rise in COVID-19 cases faster than provincial testing could.

“That data is awesome information — it’s probably the earliest signal that something is going wrong — so we absolutely should use it,” Gasperowicz said. “Because we’ll know not only if something is going bad in Calgary, we’ll know even where it is because you can trace where the wastewater comes from.”

Rally organizer and emergency room physician Dr. Joe Vipond said the wastewater data is helpful with providing broad data, but isn’t able to provide specific data to pinpoint exactly where there are outbreaks of the virus.

“It does not identify outbreaks,” Vipond said. “You can look at quadrants of the city and how bad it is in different areas of the city, but you can’t say Western Canada High School has an outbreak, that the Agape Hospice has an outbreak, that the McDonald’s on 4 Street has an outbreak.”

If cases continue to rise, Gondek said she will call on Mayor Naheed Nenshi to call an emergency meeting of council to discuss re-establishing some public health measures.

Masks are still required on public transit, in taxis and rideshare vehicles, but those requirements will also be lifted on Aug. 16.

Nenshi said he isn’t recommending bringing back the mask bylaw but would recall council over councillors’ August break to discuss the issue if cases dramatically rise.

“We have the power to continue requesting people to wear masks on transit. We regulate the taxi industry so we have the power to do that,” Nenshi told Global News on Friday. “But if there is a point that I need to recall council from their summer vacation because we have to put back the masking bylaw because we’re looking at an outbreak, I won’t hesitate to do that.”

Read more:
Alberta Medical Association head concerned over province lifting COVID-19 protocols

Other councillors are also in favour of reinstituting some measures, including Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell, who tweeted that she would would support reinstating the mask bylaw.

“I also support reinstating the mask bylaw,” Ward 9 councillor Gian-Carlo Carra tweeted. “Unfortunately, we will need to wait for the numbers to get worse before we’ll have the political support on (city council) to get it over the line.”

Meanwhile, Ward 13 councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart tweeted that she would be opposed to bringing back the mask bylaw, and added that it wouldn’t be enforcible.

Mayoral candidate and Ward 6 councillor Jeff Davison also took to social media to weigh in on the province’s decision to scale back measures.

“Are we really about to become the first place in the world to abandon test-trace-isolate practices?” Davison tweeted Monday. “Getting the world to take us seriously is hard enough — I worry this policy by the province is about to do us irreparable harm.”

City council is currently on summer break until September.

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said due to the lack of power the city has in terms of health measures,  the Oct. 18 municipal election should be noted when analyzing what council decides to do with health measures.

“When we look at the COVID restrictions that the city has the capacity to do, they can’t be viewed independently of that ongoing election,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

IOC probing case of Belarusian sprinter, awaiting report from country's Olympic body

WATCH: Belarusian Olympic sprinter granted Polish visa over fears for her safety

The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday it was waiting for a report later in the day from the Belarusian National Olympic Committee on the case of sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, after launching an investigation into the incident that has rocked the Games.

The athlete took refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo on Monday, a day after refusing her team’s orders to board a flight home from the Olympic Games. Warsaw has offered her a humanitarian visa.

Read more:
Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya seeks asylum in Poland amid standoff with Belarus

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams told reporters the body had spoken to the athlete twice on Monday, that she was in a safe, secure place, and that the IOC needed to know all the facts before taking further action.

“We are expecting and have asked for a report from the National Olympic Committee of Belarus for today,” Adams said, adding the IOC was still gathering the facts.

“We want it (the report) today. We have decided to launch a formal investigation. We need to establish the full facts. We need to hear everyone involved.”

Asked whether an IOC decision on the matter would come during the Games, Adams said it was not possible to estimate how long the investigation would take.

“That obviously can take time. We need to get to be bottom of it. How long that will take I do not know,” he said.

Tsimanouskaya, 24, had been due to compete in the women’s 200 metre heats on Monday but said that on Sunday she was taken out of her room in the athletes’ village and driven to the airport to board a flight home after criticising team officials.

Read more:
‘I will not return’: Belarusian Olympian says she was taken to airport against her wishes

The incident has focussed attention on Belarus, where police have cracked down on dissent following a wave of protests triggered by an election last year which the opposition says was rigged to keep Lukashenko in power.

“We have also now contacted the NOC of Poland. In terms of what the IOC can for her future we have talked to them with regard to her sport, after he arrival in Warsaw if that is indeed where she chooses to end up,” Adams said.

In March, the IOC refused to recognise the election of Lukashenko’s son Viktor as head of the country’s Olympic Committee. Both father and son were banned from attending the Games in December.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken blasted Belarus’ attempt to send Tsimanouskaya home. “Such actions violate the Olympic spirit, are an affront to basic rights, and cannot be tolerated,” Blinken wrote on Twitter late on Monday.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by Himani Sarkar and Lincoln Feast.)

© 2021 Reuters

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