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Only THREE authorities in England saw Covid infection rates rise last week, official data reveals


Only three local authorities in England saw their coronavirus  infection rates rise last week, official data showed- even though 99 per cent of the country will be plunged into Tier Two or Three lockdowns next week.

And more than half – 97 out of 149 – saw their numbers of Covid cases plummet by at least 25 per cent, according to Public Health England’s weekly infection surveillance report.

Medway, East Sussex and Redbridge, in London, were the three authorities to see rises in Covid-19 infections, by 28.4 per cent, 5.2 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively, as lockdown restrictions entered their third week.

The Prime Minister is threatening to force 99 per cent of England’s population into the harshest measures under the re-vamped tier system when the shutdown ends on December 2. But there is mounting opposition from MPs from all sides, who say the way they were applied is ‘confusing’ and some boroughs should be spared from harsh county-wide rules.

Department of Health officials claim the percentage change in Covid infection rates was used as a key criteria for determining the tiers, alongside pressure on the local NHS, total infection levels, cases in over 60s and proportion of tests that are positive for Covid-19.

But figures back up claims from furious MPs and some scientists that ministers – who have refused to reveal what the exact thresholds are for placing restrictions on certain areas – should have placed more local authorities into looser tiers because of rapidly tumbling infections.

Experts said they felt ministers had been ‘cautious’ in applying tiers because of an expected spike over Christmas but that, once the festive period was past, it was likely many areas would be moved to Tier Two.

It comes after the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested this morning that local authorities could be shifted down to Tier Two before Christmas, providing their case rates fell to low levels. And Boris Johnson today admitted the brutal new Tiers are ‘frustrating’ for low-infection areas – but refused to change course insisting the rules must be kept ‘simple’.

And showing the second coronavirus wave has already peaked, the Cambridge University academics behind the gloomy 4,000 deaths-a-day estimate that spooked ministers into imposing a second national lockdown in the first place have revised their model to say that cases across England started declining last month.

COVID-19 CASES STARTED FALLING IN OCTOBER, SAY CAMBRIDGE SCIENTISTS 

Covid-19 cases started falling in the country as early as October – before a second national lockdown was imposed, according to revised modelling by scientists at the University of Cambridge.

The number of new infections a day peaked on October 19, they claim, when it reached 48,500, but since declined to 41,200 by November 22.

Their estimate is based on the number of Covid-19 deaths recorded each day, alongside the number of people testing positive for antibodies against the virus. 

Department of Health data shows that the average number of confirmed cases a day peaked on November 16, at 25,331, and has since declined to an average of 17,329 on November 26.

The scientists – which manage the Nowcast and Forecast model that is sent to SAGE – said the growth rate in cases for England has dipped to -0.01 a day, adding to known evidence that the second wave is shrinking.

They also found that London had the highest rate of infection in the country, followed by the North West. The South West still had the lowest attack rate of infections.

Announcing the results the programme leader Professor Daniela de Angelis, a  biostatistician, said: ‘The pandemic is slowing down.

‘(The fall) likely results from a combination of the social restrictions introduced in October, the temporary decrease in activity over the half-term period, and the ongoing lockdown.

‘Disentangling the contribution of these factors is challenging.’

She added: ‘We remain concerned that R may not have fallen to a level sufficiently below 1, which strongly suggests that effective measures to control infection rates must continue to be in place after the end of the current lockdown period.’ 

The largest drops in Covid-19 infections were recorded in Bracknell Forest, by 55.4 per cent to 60.4 cases per 100,000 people, Brighton and Hove, by 51.1 per cent to 76 per 100,000, and Torbay, by 47.1 per cent to 107.9 per 100,000, which are all set to enter Tier Two.

Of the three local authorities set to enter Tier One – Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Isles of Scilly – the largest drop in infections was recorded in Cornwall, by 37.8 per cent to 54.7 per 100,000, placing it 27th on the league table of sharpest falls in infections.

As many as seven local authorities set to enter Tier Three – the harshest measures which also force restaurants to move to takeaway only – recorded a larger dip in infection rates than Cornwall.

Three local authorities in Greater Manchester – Salford, Stockport and Tameside – all recorded bigger drops than Cornwall, alongside Hartlepool, Hull, South Gloucestershire and Redcar and Cleveland.

Trafford saw a drop of 46.9 per cent to 164.3, while Salford saw it fall by 42.6 per cent to 243.4 and Stockport recorded a drop by 37.9 per cent to 198 per 100,000. Hartlepool recorded a fall by 41 per cent to 342.7 per 100,000, Hull saw it fall by 40.5 per cent to 445.4 per 100,000, South Gloucestershire saw a fall by 38.9 per cent to 208.4 per 100,000, and in Redcar and Cleveland it dropped by 40 per cent to 292.4 per 100,000.

Hull remained England’s Covid-19 hotspot for the second week in a row, according to the Public Health England data, recording 445.4 per 100,000. But this was a 40.5 per cent drop from the previous week’s 748 per 100,000.

Swale in Kent has also been identified as a hotspot by the Department of Health. But it is a borough of a county, meaning that in the Public Health England data it is grouped with its county, Kent, which has an overall infection rate at 260.6 per 100,000, the 41st highest level in the nation.

Medway had the second highest infection rate in England at 414.6 per 100,000. This was a 28.5 per cent rise from the previous week’s 322.7 per 100,000. It is set to enter Tier Three.

And Stoke-on-Trent had the third highest rate at 409.6 per 100,000, also a 25.8 per cent drop from 322.7 per 100,000 in the week before.

The lowest infection rate was recorded in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, at 54.7 per 100,000, and the Isle of Wight, at 58.6 per 100,000, which have both being placed in Tier One.

They were followed by Bracknell Forest, with 60.4 per 100,000, Dorset, with 63.1 per 100,000, and Brighton and Hove, with 76 per 100,000.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia, told MailOnline he felt ministers had been on the ‘cautious side’ when implementing the tiers because of Christmas.

‘There will be an increase as we move up to Christmas almost inevitably,’ he said. ‘I strongly suspect what’s going to happen is we’ll have Christmas and then you’ll have to wait about three weeks afterwards before anything changes – but then I suspect we will start to see a relaxation’.

It can take up to two weeks for someone who has been infected with the virus to develop the tell-tale symptoms – a continuous cough, high temperature and loss of taste and smell – get tested, and then receive a positive result.

Government maps show that once sky-high infection rates in the North of England have tumbled during lockdown, as they have fallen in almost all areas of the country. Colour scheme shows a darker shade of blue to represent a higher rate of positive coronavirus cases per person. Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

Government maps show that once sky-high infection rates in the North of England have tumbled during lockdown, as they have fallen in almost all areas of the country. Colour scheme shows a darker shade of blue to represent a higher rate of positive coronavirus cases per person. Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

MIDLANDS AND YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

MIDLANDS AND YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

WEST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

WEST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

EAST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

EAST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

SOUTH EAST AND LONDON: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

SOUTH EAST AND LONDON: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

SOUTH WEST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

SOUTH WEST: Purple indicates an infection rate of more than 400 cases per 100,000 people in the week ending November 21, dark blue = 201-400, light blue = 101-200, turquoise = 51-100, green = 11-50, yellow = 0-10

He added that large swathes of the North had been placed under Tier Three despite seeing ‘very nice declines’ in infections because they’ve ‘still got high levels of disease’. But, adding a ray of hope, he said they may well be moved down to Tier Two in January which would be ‘enough to stop cases from rising again’.

‘I think it is enough to control the epidemic in virtually all of the authorities but the old Tier Two would just about maintain the status quo – while not actually bringing down numbers where you’ve got high levels,’ he said. 

Professor Hunter said that although the percentage change in Covid-19 infections is a ‘very important’ measure for determining which tier a local authority will go into, it must be considered alongside others including pressure on NHS trusts and the total number of infections.

‘The R values and percentage change are actually mathematically very closely related,’ he said, ‘and so that is crucially important. But what is also important is the actual number of cases that you’ve got’.  

MPs from all parties have objected to how the restrictions were determined today with ex-minister Tobias Ellwood warning on BBC Breakfast: ‘My biggest gripe I think is the data we are using. They made a decision on November 25 using last week’s data for the vote that is going to happen next week.

‘I would really like the decisions to be made using up-to-date data a couple of days before these new restrictions come in.

‘I would also go further than that to say, I would have liked to have seen a blanket order across the country of a travel ban of maybe up to 10 to 15 miles so that areas that are in Tier One are better protected and areas that are in Tier Three can be better targeted with support.

‘The fact is people can still move around an awful lot and I’m afraid the virus has the ability to move.’

Conservative MP for Ashford, in Kent, Damian Green said yesterday he was ‘hugely disappointed’ after the whole county was moved into Tier Three despite wildly different infection rates between boroughs. 

‘Before lockdown we were in Tier One, so what has lockdown achieved? We need the full analysis made public.,’ he wrote on Twitter. 

Under Tier Three restrictions – the harshest and to be imposed over swathes of the North of England, Bristol and Staffordshire – restaurants and pubs are forced to offer takeaway only and residents are banned from mixing with people from other households in order to drive down the infection rate.

Under Tier Two restaurants can re-open, but only to offer ‘substantial meals’, meaning many may stay away from their local food outlets and some bars and pubs will also be forced to shutter.

But in Tier One most freedoms are restored, with only the Rule of Six, 10pm curfew, and other nation measures still needing to be applied.

Gyms will remain open under all tiers, although advice to work from home will remain in force in all areas.

WHICH AREAS HAD THE BIGGEST PERCENTAGE FALLIN INFECTIONS?

Authority

Bracknell Forest

Brighton

Torbay

Trafford (GM)

Southampton

Plymouth

Cheshire West

Sefton (Liv)

Liverpool (Liv)

Wandsworth(Lon)

% fall

-55.4%

-51.1%

-47.1%

-46.9%

-46.5%

-45.4%

-45.2%

-43.9%

-43.6%

-42.6% 

Infection rate

60.3

76

107.9

164.3

118

116.4

164.4

140.7

146.2

102.2 

WHICH AREAS HAD THE SMALLEST FALLS IN INFECTIONS? 

Authority

Medway

East Sussex

Redbridge (Lon)

Luton

Newham (Lon)

Hounslow (Lon)

Suffolk

Greenwich (Lon)

Barking (Lon)

Thurrock

% change

+28.5%

+5.2%

+5%

0%

-0.1%

-1%

-3.2%

-4.1%

-5.9%

-6.4% 

Infection rate

414.6

122.9

295.9

285.9

210.7

187.5

80.7

177.8

248.5

208.8 

It comes as Cambridge scientists today say Covid-19 infections in England likely peaked in mid-October, before the second lockdown was imposed.

They say the number of new infections a day reached a high of 48,500 on October 19, but has since slid to 41,200 by November 22.

Their estimate is based on the number of Covid-19 deaths recorded each day, alongside the number of people testing positive for antibodies against the virus. 

Department of Health data shows that the average number of cases a day peaked on November 16, at 25,331, and has since declined to an average of 17,329 by November 26.

The scientists – which manage the Nowcast and Forecast model – also said the growth rate in cases for England has dipped to -0.01  a day, suggesting the second wave is in decline.

They also found that London had the highest rate of infection in the country, followed by the North West. The South West still had the lowest attack rate of infections.

Announcing the results the programme leader Professor Daniela de Angelis, a  biostatistician, said: ‘The pandemic is slowing down.

‘(The fall) likely results from a combination of the social restrictions introduced in October, the temporary decrease in activity over the half-term period, and the ongoing lockdown. Disentangling the contribution of these factors is challenging.’

She added: ‘We remain concerned that R may not have fallen to a level sufficiently below 1, which strongly suggests that effective measures to control infection rates must continue to be in place after the end of the current lockdown period.’   

How fair are the tier rules? Public Health England data shows infection rates are higher in London than Greater Manchester and parts of the Midlands and Kent are caught in sweeping measures as MPs bemoan harsh local lockdowns 

Public Health England’s data reveals unfair divides in local lockdowns as areas with low and falling infection rates now face tougher rules than worse-hit places. 

Around 23million people – most in the North and the Midlands – will be lumped into Tier Three meaning little will change for them when the national shutdown ends.

But infections data shows that parts of London have been given an easy ride in the new rules, which put the entire city in Tier Two, while places all over the country face harsher restrictions despite having fewer Covid cases.

MANCHESTER VS LONDON 

Greater Manchester has been lumped into Tier Three despite many parts of the region having lower infection rates than London boroughs. 

Eight parts of Manchester have infection rates above the England average (204 positive tests per 100,000 people), compared to seven parts of the capital.

Trafford, for example, had a coronavirus infection rate of 164 cases for every 100,000 people in the week ending November 22. This had fallen by 47 per cent from a week earlier, marking the fourth fastest decline in the country.

Likewise, nearby Stockport saw its infection rate drop by 38 per cent from 319 per 100,000 to 198.

The two will be put into the Tier Three lockdown, despite having significantly lower infection rates than many parts of London, including Havering, where there were 319 cases per 100,000 in the most recent week.

Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Bexley, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest and Enfield all also had higher infection rates.

The Department of Health said in a document to justify its rules: ‘While there has been continued improvement in Greater Manchester, weekly case rates remain very high, especially amongst those aged over 60, at around 260 per 100,000 people. 

‘The pressure on the local NHS is decreasing in some areas but remains a concern; Manchester University hospital and Pennine Acute Trust remain under significant pressure.’

And on London it added: ‘Taken as a whole, the situation in London has stabilised at a similar case rate and positivity to other parts of the country in Tier 2.’ 

But NHS data also shows that hospitals appear to be busier in London than they are in Manchester.

Manchester University Hospitals, Pennine Acute Hospitals and Bolton NHS Trust – three of the regions biggest hospital trusts – all had between 80 and 89 per cent of their beds occupied between November 2 and November 22.

In comparison, some of London’s major hospitals – the Royal Free, Lewisham and Greenwich, King’s College, UCL Hospitals, North Middlesex and Barts Health – all had occupancy rates higher than 90 per cent in the same week.

Manchester University Hospitals, Pennine Acute Hospitals and Bolton NHS Trust – three of the regions biggest hospital trusts – all had between 80 and 89 per cent of their beds occupied between November 2 and November 22. In comparison, some of London's major hospitals – the Royal Free, Lewisham and Greenwich, King's College, UCL Hospitals, North Middlesex and Barts Health – all had occupancy rates higher than 90 per cent in the same week

Manchester University Hospitals, Pennine Acute Hospitals and Bolton NHS Trust – three of the regions biggest hospital trusts – all had between 80 and 89 per cent of their beds occupied between November 2 and November 22. In comparison, some of London’s major hospitals – the Royal Free, Lewisham and Greenwich, King’s College, UCL Hospitals, North Middlesex and Barts Health – all had occupancy rates higher than 90 per cent in the same week

PARTS OF MIDLANDS AND KENT SWEPT UP IN RANGING COUNTY-WIDE MEASURES 

Outside of the major cities, today’s announcement also saw some countywide measures sweep up areas with low infection rates because of their worse-hit neighbours.

In Kent, for example, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells were told they would be forced into a Tier Three lockdown despite low and falling rates of positive tests.

While they both recorded 120 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to November 21, they were included in a Kent-wide Tier Three lockdown driven by soaring case rates in nearby Swale, Medway and Thanet, where rates have surged to as high as 646 positive cases per 100,000 during lockdown.

The county’s MP, Damian Green, said in a tweet: ‘I’m hugely disappointed that the whole of Kent has been put into Tier 3. Before lockdown we were in Tier 1 so what has lockdown achieved?’

Above is the county of Kent alongside its varying infection rates. The highest levels are in Thanet, Swale and the separate county of Medway

Above is the county of Kent alongside its varying infection rates. The highest levels are in Thanet, Swale and the separate county of Medway

The Derbyshire Dales and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire have suffered the same fate, lumped into the toughest restrictions because of their neighbours.

Both will enter Tier Three from next Thursday when national lockdown lifts, but have infection rates significantly below the average (204 per 100,000), and falling.

In the Derbyshire Dales the rate is 171 but it is part of a Tier Three rule across the entire county and Derby City, which PHE data shows had infection rates of 212 and 249, respectively.

In Stratford upon Avon there were just 108 positive tests per 100,000 people in the week to November 22, but the town will be subjected to a Tier Three lockdown for the whole of Warwickshire (195).

Authorities bordering Stratford have similar rates – Daventry (123) and Cherwell (100) – but escape Tier Three because they’re over county lines in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.

The Department of Health said pressure on hospitals in Warwickshire ‘remains high’. 

In Stratford upon Avon there were just 108 positive tests per 100,000 people in the week to November 22, but the town will be subjected to a Tier Three lockdown for the whole of Warwickshire (195). Authorities bordering Stratford have similar rates – Daventry (123) and Cherwell (100) – but escape Tier Three because they're over county lines in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire

In Stratford upon Avon there were just 108 positive tests per 100,000 people in the week to November 22, but the town will be subjected to a Tier Three lockdown for the whole of Warwickshire (195). Authorities bordering Stratford have similar rates – Daventry (123) and Cherwell (100) – but escape Tier Three because they’re over county lines in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire

The Derbyshire Dales and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire have suffered the same fate, lumped into the toughest restrictions because of their neighbours. Both will enter Tier Three from next Thursday when national lockdown lifts, but have infection rates significantly below the average (204 per 100,000), and falling. In the Derbyshire Dales the rate is 171 but it is part of a Tier Three rule across the entire county and Derby City, which PHE data shows had infection rates of 212 and 249, respectively

The Derbyshire Dales and Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire have suffered the same fate, lumped into the toughest restrictions because of their neighbours. Both will enter Tier Three from next Thursday when national lockdown lifts, but have infection rates significantly below the average (204 per 100,000), and falling. In the Derbyshire Dales the rate is 171 but it is part of a Tier Three rule across the entire county and Derby City, which PHE data shows had infection rates of 212 and 249, respectively

And a council leader in Devon, which has been put in Tier Two despite one of the lowest infection rates in the country, said the new lockdown rules were 'a slap in the face'. Alan Connett, leader of Teignbridge District Council, said he was 'hugely disappointed' for the area, which has had one of the lowest rate of infections in England over the last seven days. Teignbridge has had 52.9 positive cases per 100,000 people, while nearby South Hams had 60.9 and Torridge 68.8

And a council leader in Devon, which has been put in Tier Two despite one of the lowest infection rates in the country, said the new lockdown rules were ‘a slap in the face’. Alan Connett, leader of Teignbridge District Council, said he was ‘hugely disappointed’ for the area, which has had one of the lowest rate of infections in England over the last seven days. Teignbridge has had 52.9 positive cases per 100,000 people, while nearby South Hams had 60.9 and Torridge 68.8

But South Warwickshire NHS Trust recorded an average of 81 per cent of its beds full in the most recent fortnight, putting it in the 20 least busy in the country. 

And a council leader in Devon, which has been put in Tier Two despite one of the lowest infection rates in the country, said the new lockdown rules were ‘a slap in the face’.  

Alan Connett, leader of Teignbridge District Council, said he was ‘hugely disappointed’ for the area, which has had one of the lowest rate of infections in England over the last seven days. 

Teignbridge has had 52.9 positive cases per 100,000 people, while nearby South Hams had 60.9 and Torridge 68.8.

‘I’m hugely disappointed for Teignbridge, and even more saddened for the businesses that will be adversely affected by this decision,’ said Mr Connett, a Liberal Democrat.

‘We’re very unlucky that we’ve been placed in a higher tier than many expected, and it does feel like a slap in the face for everyone who has worked so hard to keep our infection rates low, keep our high streets and businesses Covid-safe and stick to the rules.

‘But what we need to focus on now is keeping our rates down, helping get our NHS through this critical period, and supporting our local communities to recover.’ 

AREAS WITH HIGHER-THAN-AVERAGE OR RISING INFECTION RATES ESCAPE TIER THREE

While some areas appeared to face unfairly tough restrictions, others with considerably higher rates of positive tests were put under looser measures.

For example, Luton and Carlisle have been put into Tier Two despite infection rates of 285 and 278 cases per 100,000 people, respectively.

These rates were higher than five out of 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, and also higher than Kent, Derby, Nottinghamshire, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, which were all put into Tier Three.

Another confusing choice was the one to put East Sussex and the London borough of Redbridge in Tier Two, despite them being two of only three places where infections are still increasing during the national lockdown.

In both places the infection rate rose by five per cent, in Redbridge from 282 per 100,000 people to 296 between November 15 and 22, and in East Sussex from 117 to 123.

The third place to see an increase out of the 149 places across England was Medway in Kent, which saw the rate rise 28 per cent from 323 to 415. Medway will go into Tier Three along with the rest of the county. 

DOES EAST LONDON NEED TIER 3?

Coronavirus infections in are trending upwards in at least four London boroughs despite the capital avoiding a Tier 3 lockdown, figures show.

The city was placed under laxer Tier 2 restrictions today in a huge boost for the hospitality and entertainment sectors in London.

Tier 2 means restaurants, gyms, cinemas, theatres, bowling alleys, hotels and leisure centres will be able to open.

The decision was made because the vast majority of London’s 32 boroughs are seeing average infections trend downwards.

But Government data shows four east London boroughs, Newham, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Waltham Forest, are bucking the trend.

Newham was recording 113.4 infections every day on average on November 18, the most recent snapshot.

That’s 6 per cent more than the 101.7 the week beforehand, on November 11, and 20 per cent more than the 94.9 a fortnight prior.

In Redbridge, also in east London, daily cases were averaging 131.8 on the same date, up from 121.3 the week before and 101.4 on November 4.

The borough of Barking and Dagenham is also recording an upwards trend in cases, though the rate of increase how slowed.

On November 18 cases were 80.3, on average, compared to 75 on November 11 and 70 the week before that. 

Waltham Forest was seeing cases decrease in mid-November but they have started to trend in the opposite direction.

After an October surge in cases, the borough had an average 92 daily infections by November 10. This plunged to 76.9 by November 16, but rebounded up to 84.6 by November 18. 



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