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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

COVID-19

Towards the end of last week, I began to feel under the weather. The symptoms included a constant low-level headache, muscle pain, a slight sore throat, and general fatigue. As Sue and I are taking part in the COVID-19 online monitoring survey being run by King’s College, London, and have to send them a daily update of any symptoms we are experiencing, we were asked if we wanted to have a COVID-19 test. We both agreed, and sent in our requests on Thursday.

An Amazon courier delivered our test kits by midday on Friday, and having followed the procedure laid down in the kit, our tests were returned by post that afternoon. (The test involves taking a swab of your tonsils and nasal cavity, neither of which were easy nor very pleasant to do. The swab is then returned in a special sealed tube which is placed in a sealed bag inside a biohazard bag, which is itself placed inside a self-assembly cardboard postage box.)

Our results were texted to us early on Sunday morning (1.25am!), followed by a confirmatory email. Neither Sue nor I tested positive, which was very reassuring. If we had received positive results, we would have had to self-isolate for a minimum of seven days ... but if only one of us had, then the other would have had to self-isolate for fourteen days!

The test did not tell us if we had been previously infected, as it did not test for antibodies ... so for the foreseeable future we will continue taking care when outside our home. We already washed our hands frequently and sanitised them whenever the opportunity presented itself (going on cruises has taught us the value of these basic hygiene procedures), and we have become quite used to wearing masks when in shops or places where social distancing is difficult to maintain. Sue and I will continue to do so for as long as it remains necessary ... which may well be until a vaccine becomes generally available.

54 comments:

  1. Worrying times Bob, glad that you both tested negative for the virus. I think the biggest issue is that the majority who have the virus show little or no symptoms and so can spread it without being aware to those more vulnerable.Lost my 95 year old Aunt Vi two weeks ago, she had a fall and was taken into hospital where she developed a chest infection and died, we feared the worst but the death certificate made no mention of covid which was a relief.

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    1. ‘Lee,

      They are indeed worrying times. We were half expecting that the tests would be positive, and were prepared to be self-isolated for at least a week, if not a fortnight,

      I am amazed at how casual some people are with regard to the simple preventative measures that are in force. Regrettably, it now seems no longer just confined to the younger members of society. I’ve seen increasing number of people of my age group not wearing masks when they should, nor sanitising their hands when entering shops. With predictions of a possible second wave over winter causing 120,000 deaths in the UK, compulsory mask wearing in shops cannot come a moment too soon.

      I was sorry to read about your aunt’s death. Regrettably, secondary chest infections seem to be quite common when older people end up in hospital. My own father died of a heart attack, having just been sent home from hospital. He was discharged suffering from undiagnosed double pneumonia, which contributed to his death.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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    2. A well known UK chemist (you put them on your feet) does a vaccination which covers the main 13 types of Pneumonia. SWMBO and I both paid for the vaccine in January. We are very glad we did, it’s covers you for life. You get a certificate for your GP to update your medical records.

      Delete
    3. Simon,

      I wasn’t aware of that service, even though I’m registered with that particular company as a ‘senior’. It’s certainly something worth considering for the future.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. Hi Bob, glad you both tested negative, and yes, people are becoming a bit blasé about hygiene precautions of late. I learned about environmental health from three years in a pub kitchen but I never thought I would have to use the same procedures in an office. I have a heart condition so I have been going out with a mask since the emergency started and it does leave you short of breath. Take Care, best wishes,
      Tony Jones.

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    5. Tony Jones,

      I find it gobsmacking how some people are quite willing to risk their own and other people’s health by refusing to wear a face mask in enclosed public space. Yes, they are uncomfortable to wear and - if you have breathing difficulties - can restrict one’s breathing, but as far as I am concerned, I’m wearing mine to both protect other people from any infection I might have and to protect myself from other people who might be infected.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  2. Well that's good news Bob. We all need to keep being cautious, especially since the predictions for the spike in cases during the Winter months is so gloomy. I'm glad that VCOW was a success - I think that maybe the norm for a while.

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    1. Maudlin Jack Tar,

      When I was made a Freemason, I was told very early on to always be cautious ... and it is advice that I’ve always tried to stick to.

      The predictions that came out today did not look good, and I fear that things are going to get much worse before it gets better. At least things like VCOW can help people keep connected and hopefully stimulated.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. H1N1 is still going around, one of my collegues came down with it last November.

    Glad neither of you tested positive.

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    1. Justin Peneith,

      I have a feeling that COVID-19 will also be with us for a long time to come, and that until a vaccine is developed, we will keep experiencing ‘waves’ of infection,

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Unsettling times to fall ill in any way. I'm glad you've dodged it thus far and wish that that trend long continues.

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    1. Ross Mac,

      It is very unsettling indeed, and being advised to stay at home as much as possible doesn’t help. I’m sure that part of our current feelings of fatigue are down to the long term inactivity that we have been enduring since March. I would hope that you and Kathy find it relatively easy to avoid too much interaction with potential infection.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  5. I'm glad to hear you and your wife are OK. We are still more or less under lockdown due to our son being on the extremely clinically vulnerable list. I'm hoping that I will be exempt from wearing a mask when it comes into force soon as I have asthma and suffer from slight changes to my peak flow, meaning a maks will make me feel very out of breath very quickly. Having worn one at work on and off for many years it is not pleasant! We'll have to wait and see.

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    1. Steve J.,

      Cheers! It is to do my bit to help protect people like you and your son that I feel more than justifies me having to wear a mask, however inconvenient and uncomfortable it can be. I find that after about twenty minutes, my top lip is soaking wet, and I have yet to solve the problem of my glasses steaming up in certain circumstances ... but it’s certainly a lot easier to wear than a respirator!

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  6. I had exactly the same symptoms from a virus in early May. Knocked me out for a few days and it has taken a while to recover from it - with occasional relapses of fatigue and muscle pain.

    Hope you recover quickly.

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    1. Mike Lewis,

      The test didn’t cover antibodies, and we may well have have a mild case of COVID-19 in the recent past, and are now suffering from the after effects.

      Back in the early 1990s I was infected by a flu-like virus that led to me suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This affected me so badly that I was off work for over six months, and could only return to work part time for a further six months. This feels similar, but not as bad.

      It may take time, but I am determined to get better as soon as I can.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. I had CFS for 12 years so I know what it is like! This wasn't as bad. I recovered from CFS in 2015

      Delete
    3. Mike Lewis,

      It’s a very debilitating condition, and like depression, unless you’ve had it, it’s very difficult to understand how bad it can be,

      I found that even when I was over the worst, every time I had a cold or ‘flu, it came back and knocked me for six for anything up to a month. That carried on for the following twenty years, although it’s impact lessened over the years.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Hi BOB,

    So pleased you and Sue are OK there in London- testing negative. Your right- this pandemic will be with us for a long time to come and there will be further waves of infection. We avoid crowded places and so far in the last six months we've only had a handful of single vistors to our home - for awhile Chris wouldn't even let them inside our house. Yes, it pays to be cautious and take precautions such as Social Distancing. Unlike other countries we've nowhere near the numbers of infections and I think that is all very much to do with our Governments taking very early action. Stay well and safe there. Best Wishes. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson (Kev),

      Cheers! It sounds as if you are exercising the same sort of caution we are ... and we have only had three people inside out house since lockdown started in March, and one of those was a gas engineer who was there to do an annual service on our gas boiler.

      It seems as if the Australian government is acting a bit more decisively than ours, and hopefully their strategy will pay dividends and keep the infection rate down. The R rate in London was down to 0.6, but it is slowly creeping up again, and some areas are now recording rates of 1.1 and higher.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  8. Phew! I feared the worst when I read the title and opening paragraphs. Hope your symptoms don’t last long.

    I totally agree with your comment about wearing a mask. It’s uncomfortable and not inconvenient but it’s a small price to pay to protect other people.

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    1. Nundanket,

      I feel very tired at times, but I’m hoping that this will pass in a couple of days.

      I’ve just been listening to the news, and it sounds as if the wearing of face masks will help prevent the spread of the virus ... but that shops will have to enforce it with little or no support from the police! What’s the point of making rules that cannot be enforced?

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. Glad it proved negative for you both. Hope you feel better soon. Mask wearing, socially isolating and hand washing are something we can all do to help others and ourselves.

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    1. Tradgardmastare,

      We had a worrying couple of days until the results came back, but the negative results were very welcome.

      I really don’t know why wearing a mask, social distancing, sanitising, and washing one’s hands regularly seems to be so difficult for some people to do. It’s just good hygienic practice, not an encroachment on some spurious notion of personal ‘freedom’.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  10. Bob, I have hay fever, and for a while, I was sending my doctor almost daily messages about this or that symptom. But, I’ve never had a fever, and a walk six miles every day. Doc said as long as I am doing that, I am fine. Here in the states, it is infuriating to see mobs of people, most under thirty, ignoring mask wearing warnings and congregating in far too great numbers. I fear this will be with us for awhile.

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    1. NickN,

      As I am now over 70, my wife and I have been staying at home most of the time, only venturing out for trips to buy food. When we do go out, we wear face masks when we are in shops and public places where we are likely to have difficulty being able to maintain social distancing.

      I must admit that from what I’ve seen of the reactions some people in the US have had to COVID-19 has been unbelievable. How anyone can call it a ‘hoax’ or that wearing a face mask is an infringement of their ‘freedom’ just defies belief.

      In the UK, the under thirties are also the age group that are most willing to ignore any preventative measures. We’ve had unofficial street parties and raves that the police have attempted to disperse ... and this usually results in police officers being injured and cries of ‘We weren’t doing anything wrong’ from the partygoers and ravers!

      I suspect that until there is a vaccine for the antivaxers to complain about, we are stuck with COVID affecting our lives for some time to come.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  11. So glad you missed the bullet! I missed attending VCOW because my wife had a nasty fall (she is 83) and got a concussion. She had to go to the hospital which, these days, is quite scary - so wasn't in the mood for gaming. Sorry! As to "missing the bullet", if you are tied loosely to a post in front of a firing squad, why not scuttle to the other side of the post as they fire in the hope that they will let you go for quick thinking?

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    1. Dick Bryant,

      We didn’t get ‘hit’ this time ... but we are taking great care not to put ourselves into situations where we are likely to be exposed to the virus. It’s better to avoid going into the execution yard in the first place. That way you don’t get anywhere near the dreaded post!

      Sorry that you missed VCOW. We are hoping to make some of the talks available online so that people who missed them can rectify that situation. I hope that your wife is recovering from her fall. Having suffered from concussion a couple of times, I know how unpleasant it’s effects can be,

      All the best,

      Bob

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  12. Had me worried then! Don’t do that again 😄

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    1. Steve8,

      Probably not quite as worried as we were!

      It was better to be safe than sorry, even though the test was quite unpleasant to do.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  13. Bob, That must have been very worrying for both of you, but a great relief to get the negative test results. I'm very glad to hear you have avoided Covid 19 and hope you will soon feel better from whatever you did have.

    Why the English government can't act more rationally and decisively on matters like masks in shops amazes me - if one should wear a mask on a train or bus, why not in shops too, and from the same date? And now a decision has been made, why does it not come into force immediately?

    Stay safe and well, Arthur

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    1. Arthur1815,

      As Sue and I have not been out other than as a couple, when we both began to feel unwell, but with different symptoms, it did cause us some concern. Thanks to our participation in the KCL monitoring scheme, we were able to get tested very quickly. A friend of ours requested a test the day before we did using the NHS website, and did not get their test kit until Saturday, and only got their result (which was negative) yesterday afternoon.

      I think that the government should not have eased the lockdown without insisting that face masks should be worn by everyone in shops and public places as well as public transport. It was inconsistent, and in my opinion driven by a political desire to look as if we were getting back to normal.

      I can see why people might need some prior notice that there was going to be a change in the regulations ... but a couple of days would have sufficed.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  14. Hi Bob,

    I live in Michigan in the states. I can't believe the reaction that some people have to wearing a mask. A security guard was shot and killed for telling a customer to wear a mask. Today, I hear that someone got stabbed over telling someone to wear a mask.

    The lack of response and the denial of covid 19 from the Trump administration is truly mind boggling.

    I've told my sister to expect a large part of the population not to get the covid vaccine once it is available. People stopped getting their children vaccinated for measles.

    I don't what part of the US population is thinking these days: going to massive parties standing shoulder to shoulder on a sand bar in a lake, having covid parties where you try to catch covid and going to bars.

    I am so glad that you and your wife are OK.

    Scott

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    1. Scott,

      I wish that I could say that I was shocked by your stories about the shooting and stabbing ... but the attitude and ‘pronouncements’ by the POTUS seems to have created the sort of climate where this sort of thing was bound to happen.

      The antivaxers will no doubt fight tooth and nail to stop people being vaccinated by any anti-COVID-19 vaccine. I’ve already seen totally unfounded assertions that 5G is spreading COVID, that the metal strip in the top of surgical face masks are picking up 5G signals and infecting wearers, that surgeons who wear face masks die from breathing in their own expelled ‘polluted’ breath, and that there is no such thing as COVID-19 and that it is an example of mass hysteria generated by the ‘fake’ news media,

      I wonder how many people will die before the majority of the population in the US and UK realise just how lethal COVID-19 is. I saw one ‘newspaper’ saying that the death rate was likely to be ‘as low as’ 1% of the population, which sounds very small beer ... until you realist that represent over 3.5 million people in the US and 650,000 in the UK ... and that doesn’t take into account the fact that 70 million US citizens and 13 million Brits will be infected and may suffer long term heath problems as a result.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  15. Glad your results were negative Bob. A work colleague had CV19 earlier in the year and is still recovering, possibly with permanent heart damage as a result. My wife has CFS so has been extra careful and avoids shops etc wherever possible. We live next door to a pub which had a very chaotic reopening although the landlord seems to have things under control now...I haven't been tempted out for a pint yet though!

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    1. Alastair,

      I don’t think that most people realise that recovering from COVID-19 does not mean a return to normal full health. There seems to be increasing evidence that a significant number of people are going to suffer lifelong health problems as a result of contracting this virus.

      CFS is a very debilitating illness, and I do hope that your wife manages to avoid coming into contact with the virus. I was very lucky, and managed to recover eventually, thanks to a very prompt diagnosis by my doctor.

      Our local pub has not reopened. I understand that the publican now wants to sell it because it’s design is such that it cannot be COVID proofed. It is a Grade 2 listed building, which does not help as its layout is part of the listing.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  16. We are and have been doing the social distancing thing VERY effectively, but I wonder as the months drift by, whether this very act is actually weakening our general immune system, which needs constant exposure to bugs and stuff. A bit of a catch-22

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    1. Norm,

      I must admit that your point about social distancing potentially weakening our resistance to other infections is something that I had not considered. That said, I’ll still carry on wearing my face mask when I go to the shops.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  17. I'm glad to read you both tested negative.

    I'm with you and the above commenters - the virus will likely be with us a long time (years, not just a few months), the disease is awful enough (much worse than the inconvenience of wearing a mask) and long term after-effects of survivors of the disease can be rough, that not wearing a mask and taking other measures as much as you can makes sense, that a viable vaccine will be good, and all the rest. Being retired I have the luxury of being able to self-isolate for as long as needed, and being as introverted as I am it's not really a hardship. I have learned how to be active enough at home, and I have plenty of hobbies and interests to keep me busy and entertained.

    I understand not everyone has the advantages I have (or the risk). I know it's hard for some people to maintain all of the precautions, for a variety of reasons. But we all still need to do our part as much as we can. And find ways to carry on as much as possible, too (with things like VCOW).

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    1. Fitz-Badger,

      Like you, I think we are going to have to accept that the virus is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future. A vaccine might provide protection once it is developed, but until then, we all have to ‘do our bit’ to avoid spreading it. I don’t like having to wear a mask, but it is preferable to the alternatives of total isolation or a higher risk of catching the virus.

      Wearing a mask is like wearing a parachute. The parachute might stop you suffering serious injuries if you have to bale out of an aircraft ... but In the same circumstances, not having a parachute is far, far more risky!

      At least wargamers have lots to occupy their minds with. I know of some sports fans who were unable to cope with not watching live sport, and were suffering something akin to withdrawal symptoms during the lockdown. At least that doesn’t seem to have been a problem for most wargamers, who’ve found ways to get around the problem using technology.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. oops, I wrote "not wearing a mask" when I was going to say something about that, but changed tack and then forgot to delete the "not". I am totally in favor of mask-wearing, and have a few to choose from on my infrequent forays into the public.

      Delete
    3. Fitz-Badger,

      Funnily enough, I read it the way you meant it to be read, and mentally deleted the extra 'not'!

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

      Delete
  18. Glad you and your wife are OK Bob. My family has taken the whole thing seriously from the beginning and it's taken its toll but served us well. I've made multiple masks for the five of us. The kids have adjusted well to remote learning and we're happy to keep them home.
    I'll have to brave a trip to the post office in the morning to get our taxes off, wish me luck!

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    1. Mr. Pavone,

      My wife likes to make clothes, and once it was obvious that the lockdown was going to be eased, she made us a stack of hospital quality face masks. They are quite thick (they have two cloth outer layers and a membrane In the middle) and can get a bit hot to wear ... but they seem to be very effective. We wear them when we go out, and when we get back they are dumped in a special laundry bag so that why can be washed and reused. The elastic ‘goes‘ after three or four washes, but my wife makes replacements when this happens.

      Good luck with your tax returns!

      Bob

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  19. Bob, I'm on the ONS testing schedule so I'm self testing for Covid every week. My wife has spent quite a bit of time researching Covid including some online courses. One thing she observed about this test is that is has a very limited window to detect the Virus, only 3 days, and that the self testing has a higher proportion of false negative results than when tested by a clinician. So be careful as you may have Covid despite the test.

    Will

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    1. Fire at Will (Will),

      I knew that the tests were snapshot tests, and that we could be tested one day and become infected the day after we’d had the test. I’m not surprised that there is a high failure rate with the self tests as they were quite tricky to do ... and quite unpleasant as well.

      Even though our results were negative, we are still wearing our face masks whenever we go out. They may not be totally effective at preventing infection, but they do provide some some protection.

      Keep safe and keep well,

      Bob

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  20. Glad you are OK. I know a few people who have had it, and for some people it has pretty nasty long term effects.

    My daughter is a doctor and both her and a number of her colleagues caught it from patients back in the early days of the virus. When undiagnosed C19 patients cough in your face, it is very infectious indeed.

    So, keep wearing those masks. I never leave home without one and I hate going in shops as a significant number of people seem incapable of following social distance guidelines.

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    1. Martin Rapier,

      Cheers! I don’t think that the majority of the population has any idea about the long term effects of the virus, and that a significant number of people are going to be living with chronic illness after surviving it.

      Anyone working in the frontline of the NHS - like your daughter - deserves a medal (and a huge pay rise!).

      We went to Bluewater today to do some shopping, and there were quite a lot of mainly younger people - some with baby buggies - walking around without masks on and not maintaining social distancing. No doubt they think they are impervious to the virus ...

      All the best,

      Bob

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  21. Glad to hear that neither of you tested positive Bob, but sorry to hear you were under the weather.

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    1. TamsinP,

      Cheers! I think that we are suffering from Summer colds, made worse by the prolonged lack of physical activity.

      I hope that you are keeping safe and well,

      Bob

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  22. That certainly goes in the "good news" column ;)
    Stay safe!

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    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      It was certainly good news for use!

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete

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