Covid-19

Buhari Charges Varsity to Develop COVID-19 Vaccine

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday tasked the University of Ilorin to play a leading role in research and production of vaccines locally.

Buhari, also, appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions within and outside the university system to always give peace a chance.

He gave this charge through Prof. Ignatius Onimawo of National Universities Commission, who represented him at the 36th convocation of the university held in Ilorin.

“The nation expects your university to play a leading role in research efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccine in Nigeria. The nation expects nothing less from the Nigerian university system.’’
Buhari equally challenged all universities to give their best in the fight against infections and diseases.
He also appealed to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to embrace peace, adding that dialogue was always better than conflict.

“No one gains from crisis. While government alone cannot solve all challenges facing a society, this administration is willing to listen to complaints and alternative points of view to managing a situation.
“The university system cannot withstand any crisis now considering the time it had lost to Coronavirus pandemic,’’ he submitted.

He reiterated government’s resolve to prioritise and promote teacher education to raise the quality of teaching in the country.

Prof. Onimawo who also represented the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, at the occasion noted that the University of Ilorin had excelled in several disciplines.
He noted also that the university is one of those that had enjoyed very stable academic calendars over the years.

“In the last couple of years, the University of Ilorin has had the highest students’ subscription in JAMB enrolment.
“As of today, the University of Ilorin has become the university of choice in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin said the university sustained the reputation of running seamless academic sessions in spite of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The university awarded degrees to 10,922 graduates at the ceremony.
At the graduate level, 180 bagged First Class degrees, 2,836 got Second Class Upper Division, 4,879 got Second Class Lower Division, and 1,110 had Third Class degrees while there were 14 passes.
There were 142 graduates who bagged Postgraduate diplomas, 1,142 had Masters Degrees while 113 had Masters in Business Administration.

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FG Issues New Travel Protocol to Ease COVID-19 Restrictions

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, yesterday disclosed that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had issued a revised protocol for in-bound travellers to reflect the United Kingdom’s decision to ease restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria, which took effect from October 11. Ehanire revealed this during a media briefing in Abuja.

The minister explained that the new health protocol was in keeping with the Presidential Steering Committee’s removal of three countries – South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil – from the restricted list following satisfactory report of the review of developments in those countries. He said proactive measures were being taken by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the effect on the health system.

Ehanire said in line with the recent directive that with effect from December 1, all federal government employees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours before gaining access to their offices, it was envisaged that there would be increased demand for COVID-19 vaccine.

According to him, in order to enhance access to COVID-19 vaccine, the Federal Ministry of Health, through the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, was working on ways to enhance security features of COVID-19 the vaccination card to reduce forgery.

He said the Ministry was planning to establish vaccination sites at public places with high human traffic across the country, such as universities, polytechnics, shopping malls, religious centres, sporting events, conference centres, and markets.

Ehanire also disclosed that the ministry would accredit some private health care facilities as COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Giving further updates on the COVID19 pandemic, Ehanire said over the last four weeks, about 3,141,795 million persons had been tested for COVID-19 using either PCR or RDT. He said the trend of infection showed a decline in some states while other states were still experiencing increase in confirmed cases.

Ehanire also spoke on efforts toward increasing the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible Nigerians. He said on October 14, the Nigeria government received from the US government a donation of 3,577,860 doses of Pfizer vaccine through COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access known as COVAX.

The minister stated, “As at today, the Nigeria government has received over 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and based on delivery forecasts from the COVAX facility and the African Union, Nigeria will have adequate vaccines to cover more than 50 per cent of eligible populations by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

“Statistics generated by NPHCDA indicates that as at 17th October, 2021, a total of 5,337,635 eligible populations have received the first dose representing 4.8 per cent of Nigeria’s target population, while 2,665,173 have been vaccinated with the second dose, signifying 2.4 per cent of the target vaccination of 70 per cent of the population by 2022.

“We encourage Nigerians, who received the vaccines, to complete the second doses and all Nigerians that are eligible to avail themselves to receive the vaccines.”

The minister also said plans were underway to repurpose the N10 billion fund meant to support local manufacturing of vaccines. He said a proposal was being considered to transform the N10 billion fund provided in the 2021 budget to serve as grant to support the Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited to set up necessary framework and machineries for the actualisation of the dream of local manufacturing of vaccines.

Regarding the renewed drive for COVID-19 mass vaccination, he said the government had in stock at the moment about nine million doses of vaccines to administer to eligible Nigerians.

As part of measures to check abuse and racketeering of vaccination certification, he said the government had set up a special taskforce to monitor the various vaccination centres and deal severely with any medical staff found engaging in unwholesome practices.

Ehanire, speaking on the N10 billion meant for vaccine production in the budget, explained, “The plan is for Nigeria to be manufacturing vaccines and the government is a 49 per cent stakeholder in a company called Bio-vaccine Nigeria Limited to produce routine vaccines and we are trying to support that company also in adding any other type of vaccine that appears necessary in the future.”

Ehanire said the need to revive the country’s vaccine manufacturing capability became paramount following the decision of the countries that developed the COVID-19 vaccines to first take care of themselves, leaving others to wait for so long to be supplied vaccine doses.

He stated, “So the lesson from that is that we must wake up, knowing that it is our responsibility to take care of our citizens’ healthcare and to produce vaccines, if necessary, either through contract manufacturing or technology transfers.

“So that is why in the Bio-Vaccine Nigeria Limited, the federal government is looking at repurposing the N10 billion fund towards supporting vaccine production, not as a gift but definitely as what you might see as grant. This is still a proposal, it is not yet approved or finalised.”

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FG: COVID-19 Vaccination Now Mandatory for Civil Servants from Dec 1

Federal government workers across the country will from December 1 be required to present proof of COVID-19 vaccination before reporting at work. Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman, Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, announced the new policy decision yesterday in Abuja at a PSC briefing.

Mustapha said the government would issue new safety protocols in the next 24 hours.

Similarly, Nigeria removed South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the list of countries on high-level restriction, where travellers are barred from visiting, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On the new directive, Mustapha said public servants would have to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result done within 72 hours, to gain access to their offices, in all locations within Nigeria and the country’s foreign missions. He said an appropriate service-wide advisory/circular would be issued to guide the process.

Mustapha stated that statistics generated over the last four weeks from test results showed that the trend of infection was going down in some states while in others, the trajectory was rising. He put the combined total for testing by PCR and RDT at 3,141, 795 million persons.

He added that talks were on-going to resolve the diplomatic impasse between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over testing requirements for Nigerian travellers to the UAE.

Mustapha said the aviation authorities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had made reasonable progress to resolve the issue.

On the removal of South Africa, Turkey, and Brazil from the list of restricted nations, Mustapha said their exclusion was with immediate effect. The three countries were among the worst nations ravaged by the deadly COVID-19 Delta strain that claimed many lives.

He said the decision to ease the restriction was taken by the PSC following a session on Wednesday, where the committee reviewed developments in the affected countries.

India was removed from the list on September 13 by the federal government in response to the improved situation in the country.

Mustapha said, “As you are aware, the UK has eased restrictions on fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to the UK with effect from 11th October. Nigeria welcomes this development and assures that the PSC shall continue to review Nigeria’s protocols based on global developments, science and national experience. A revised protocol will be issued in the next 24 hours.”

The PSC chairman also put the public on notice concerning the two major religious festivities – Salah and Christmas – that were approaching, warning that there would be increased passenger traffic in and out of the country.

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UK: Vaccinated Nigerians can now Enter England without Pre-departure Testing, Self-isolation

The UK Government has changed its travel rules, now allowing fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria to enter into England without providing a pre-departure test and isolating from October 11.

The UK government disclosed this in a statement made available by its High Commission in Abuja to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.

The High Commission however noted that travellers who are not fully vaccinated must still adhere to the UK government’s COVID-19 guidelines of pre-departure testing and isolation on arrival.

“From Monday, 11 October 2021, fully vaccinated travellers from Nigeria will be able to come to England without needing to provide a pre-departure test, undertake a day 8 test or self-isolate for 10 days.

“Although will still need to book and pay for a day 2 test.

“This policy applies to those fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca (including Covid shield), Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson).

“Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England,” the High Commission stated.

Acting British High Commissioner, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, stated that the exemption of fully-vaccinated Nigerians travelling to the UK from providing a pre-departure test and self-isolating for 10 days is a very welcome development.

She noted that to make this happen, we have been working closely with Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency on recognising Nigeria’s vaccine certification, which we have now done.

Llewellyn-Jones expressed the UK’s commitments to opening up international travel and enabling those who wish to enter the UK, to do so safely.

“Vaccines work and – as the pandemic has shown – no one is safe until we are all safe. I would encourage all eligible people to get vaccinated,” Llewellyn-Jones stated.

The UK government however explained that the day a traveller receives the final dose of vaccine does not count as one of the 14 days.

According to the UK government, travellers must be able to prove that they have been fully vaccinated under a vaccination programme and have a valid proof of vaccination recognised by the British Government.

“For Nigeria, the certificates with valid QR codes as issued by Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency are recognised.

“If you are not a fully vaccinated traveller from Nigeria to England, you must: Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before travel.

“Book and pay for day 2 and day 8 COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival.

“Complete a passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before arrival.

“After you arrive, you must: quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.

“Take a pre-booked COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight,” the High Commission added.

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COVID-19: UK moves against Nigeria

The United Kingdom has said it would consider vaccinated  travelers from Nigeria, South America, UAE, India, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, Russia and other African countries ‘unvaccinated’ from 4am on Monday, October 4.

In new changes to its international travel rules posted on its official website, the UK government said if a person was fully vaccinated for at least 14 days under an approved programme in the UK, Europe, US or any of the ‘recognised’ countries, the individual would not have to quarantine for 10 days and would only be required to carry out COVID-19 test on day two after arriving the UK.

The recognised countries are UK, Europe, US, Australia, Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Isreal, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan. Any traveler coming from any other country not on the recognised list would be considered ‘unvaccinated’ whether or not the person has been fully vaccinated and would be required to quarantine for 10 days and take COVID-19 tests on day two and eight after arriving the UK.

According to the website, “From 4am, Monday, October 4, 2021, the rules for international travel to England will change from the red, amber, green traffic light system to  a single red list of countries and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world. The rules for travel from countries and terrorists not on red list will depend on your vaccination status.

“From 4am, Monday, October 4, if you have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days under an approved programme in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas with a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines form a relevant public health body in Australia, Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Isreal, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan, under a formally approved COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial in the US, Canada and Australia and have proof of participation (digital or paper based) from a public health body, you must book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test to be taken after arrival in England.

“You do not need to take a pre-departure test, take a day eight COVID-19 test, quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days after you arrive in England. You must be able to prove that you have been fully vaccinated with a document from a public health body.

“If you are fully vaccinated but do not qualify under these fully vaccinated rules, you must follow the unvaccinated rules by taking a pre-departure COVID-19 test three days before you travel to England, book and pay for a day two and day eight covid test to be taken after arrival in England. On arrival in England, you must quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days.”

It is understood that some of the affected countries like Brazil, Rwanda, Turkey, India and South Africa are not happy with this decision and have said the UK was yet to explain why people who were vaccinated in the ‘unrecognised’ countries would be considered ‘unvaccinated’ especially as the UK government is one of the main contributors of most of the vaccines to the African continent through the COVAX initiative.

Some aviation analyst have said the UK may have revised its travel policy because they do not have confidence in the documents proving that a person has been vaccinated as such documents could easily be obtained by non-vaccinated people.

But an informed source within the travel industry told Daily Sun that the reason for UK’s decision may be based on the type of vaccine that was given.

“UK took the Pfizer vaccines but other countries took the other ones. So, any country that did not take vaccine may quarantine on arrival. The AstraZeneca we took is produced in India while the UAE took vaccine from China. Nigeria is using QR code, which means they can trace the batch of the vaccine taken,” the source said.

Reacting to the new policy, travel and tourism operator, Mr. Ikechi Uko, said: “First, NCDC and the presidential committee on COVID-19 should comment on the issue because we do not know the efficacy of the vaccine. They should be in the best position to decide on what to do.”

National President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye, flayed the policy as discriminatory and called on the United Nations and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to call the UK to order.

“The decision is not the best because we got the vaccine from them. I don’t understand the vaccine they are rejecting but these vaccines are approved by WHO and all vaccines approved by WHO are acceptable. So, if it is good that UK took the vaccine, why is it bad that we also took the same vaccine?

“I am sure they will rescind the decision soon because as far as WHO approved the vaccine, nobody should reject it. Those who advised the country were wrong but that decision will change very soon. We should not worry about it because they are not targeting Nigeria. I think WHO and the United Nations should call them to order. What they are doing is wrong, discriminating against drugs that have been approved by WHO,” Akporiaye said.

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Ekiti dispels rumour of spoilt COVID-19 vaccines

The Ekiti State Government has described as untrue the rumour making the rounds that the COVID-19 vaccines available in the state were spoilt.

The rumour was not unconnected to the power outage experienced in the state recently.

A statement by the Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Oyebanji Filani, on Thursday, in Ado-Ekiti, said the rumour had no iota of truth in it and was meant to misinform the general public, urging the people of the state to disregard it.

He explained that the available COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the state in good condition and same were stored in the state cold store in line with storage requirements for vaccines, noting that the vaccines remained safe and effective to contain the spread.

The statement, entitled:

“UNFOUNDED RUMOUR ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINES IN EKITI STATE”, reads :

“Our attention has been drawn to an unfounded rumour claiming that “COVID-19 vaccines in Ekiti State are spoilt as a result of lack of electricity supply.”

“The Ekiti State Ministry of Health would like to state clearly that this statement is not only false and unfounded, but also meant to misinform the general public.

“The available COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the State in good condition. The vaccines are being stored in the State Cold Store in line with the appropriate guidance and requirements on vaccine handling and storage. The Moderna vaccine is currently stored at a temperature of -43.2-degree Celsius.

“The State Cold Store is equipped with 24/7 power supply to maintain the potency of the vaccines. The State has also trained, motivated and deployed 92 vaccination teams comprising 582 persons, to ensure accurate movement and administration of vaccines.

“During vaccination campaigns, vaccines are moved from the State Cold Store in Cold Chain Boxes to maintain the optimum temperature. We have continued to ensure that these vaccines are transported within the recommended temperature range.

“As at 12pm, Thursday the 16th of September, 2021, Ekiti State has exhausted her first dose of the Moderna vaccines with 47,839 persons vaccinated. This is in addition to over 70,000 persons who have received first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“As a matter of fact, the State vaccination wastage rate is currently the lowest in the country.

“Reliable information on the COVID-19 response in Ekiti State, including vaccination, can be obtained from the Ministry of Health and Human Services through the Office of the Honourable Commissioner for Health.

“We encourage everyone to refrain from spreading unfounded rumours that could create panic and mistrust in the health system.

“The available COVID-19 vaccines in Ekiti State are proven to be safe and effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19 and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

“The health and safety of the good people of Ekiti remains a top priority for the Dr Kayode Fayemi administration.”

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Against court order, Edo to begin enforcement of mandatory vaccination Wednesday —Official

The Edo State government on Tuesday said it would commence the enforcement of its no vaccination card, no entry into all state government owned facilities, as from Wednesday (today).

The government said the measure was aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.

This is coming in spite of the order of a federal high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, which barred the state from the implementation of the policy.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Osamwonyi Irowa, who disclosed this at the daily press briefing on the virus, however, said that anybody who wanted access into any state government offices, must have his or her card to show the enforcers.

“If you have to enter the state secretariat you must have your vaccination card, we are going to implement this in all the key areas to ensure that we don’t have persons being infected because the other person is being difficult,” he said.

“Those that cannot provide their COVID-19 vaccination card may have to excuse us and be working from home pending when a decision will be reached. As a state, we are doing everything possible to make sure people don’t get infected.

Details later…


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NCAA Directs Airlines to Board Passengers Without Evidence of COVID-19 Test Payment

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has given permission to airlines operating international service to Nigerian destinations to allow passengers travelling to the country,who were unable to show evidence of payment for day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or generate paid QR code or permit to fly, to board their flights.

The order was however hinged on the difficulties being experienced by travellers to Nigeria in trying to fill their health and travel history into the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP).

The permission was granted in a letter with Ref: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/317 to airlines’ Accountable and Country Managers, signed by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu and dated 11th September 2021.

According to the letter, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has been made aware of the challenges being faced by passengers to access the Nigerian Health Portal.

The Director General said such passengers would be required to make payment for the repeated day-7 COVID-19 test at their destination airport in Nigeria.

The letter also stated that holders of diplomatic passports and children aged 10 years and below, who were unable to complete the NITP were to be allowed to board their flights, adding that, their health declaration and travel history would be captured by the Port Health Services at the destination airport.

He said airlines were to bring this information to the knowledge of their passengers and ensure strict compliance with the above stated conditions.

Relevant government agencies were notified of the new directive.

The letter stated: “The Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 has been made aware of challenges some travellers to Nigeria are experiencing while trying to fill their health and travel history into the Nigerian Travel International Portal (NITP).

“Airlines are hereby permitted to board any traveler to Nigeria, who is unable to either pay for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 PCR test or generate the paid QR code/permit to fly. Such passengers will be required to make payment for the repeat day-7 COVID-19 test at their destination airport in Nigeria.

“Holders of diplomatic passports and children ages 10 years and below who are unable to complete the NITP are to be allowed to board the flight. Their health declaration and travel history will be captured by the Port Health Services (PHS) at the destination point,” the letter directed.

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Compulsory vaccination: NMA, JOHESU kick as FG threatens sanction

The Federal Government, on Tuesday, hinted that it might sanction anybody who refused to take COVID-19 vaccines after they had been made available to all Nigerians.

The Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Faisal Shuaib, gave the hint of possible sanctions at a press briefing in Abuja.

This was as a Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday, barred the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, from enforcing compulsory COVID-19 vaccination in the state.

The Nigerian Medical Association and health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Union faulted the move.

While the NMA said the people had the right to reject vaccines the same way they could reject medical treatment, JOHESU stated that the move to make vaccination compulsory was senseless.

Obaseki had last week said any resident of the state, who refused to take the vaccine, would be barred from public places and large gatherings.

Also on Monday, the Ondo State Government said it would bar those without a proof of vaccination from churches, mosques and other public places.

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Coalition Protests Obaseki’s Compulsory COVID-19 Vaccination

Some members of the civil society organisations in Benin-city, the Edo State capital, yesterday protested against plan by the state government to make it compulsory for residents of the state to take anti-COVID-19 vaccine before accessing large gathering in the state.

The state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, at a briefing last week, stated that for residents in the state to access large gatherings like churches, mosques, banks, wedding or burial receptions among others, they must present vaccination certificate from the second week of September.

Obaseki had stated that the third wave of the COVID-19 is causing devastating effects across the country, hence the need to introduce stiffer measures to reduce the effect.

But yesterday, some civil society groups defiled the early morning downpour in the state to protest against the state government planned compulsory inoculation.

The protesters, who marched through the streets of Benin-city with placards with various inscription such as ‘Obaseki Can’t Force Us to Take COVID-19 vaccines’; ‘I Have the Right to Go to Mosque’; ‘We Have Right to Decide’, among others, said the plan by the government is tantamount to trampling on the fundamental rights of the citizens.

The protesters under the aegis of Equity Initiatives, while addressing journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Secretariat in Benin-city, asked the governor to face infrastructural decay and insecurity in the state.

Convener and spokesperson for the groups, Chris Iyama, said: “We are here to express our displeasure over the government move to force Edo people to take COVID-19 vaccines. This is against our fundamental human right.

“You cannot force someone to eat what he or she doesn’t want. Are we in banana republic? We own the state not the government.”

Also, the interim state chairman, Edo Civil Society, Bishop Osadolor Anthony Ochei, said it is the right of the citizens to decide whether to be vaccinated or not.

According to him, “If the state government has failed, we cannot fail ourselves. The government has the right to make policies but this policy is not law.”

The protesters had earlier taken their protest to the state Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and the state Government House.

“This is purely the handwork of crises merchants and mischief makers who want to create panic and fear in the minds of Anambra people and residents alike. The Command, with other sister security agencies, are working in synergy to ensure that the security situation in Anambra State is intact.”

Meanwhile, a resident of Awka, a civil servant, who begged not to be named, said the attack was true, but was not recent. “It happened three months ago, and the operative that was killed is a colleague of my neighbour, and was buried last month,” the source said.

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