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Picture of BobHale
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It occurred to me that there might be people here that don't see my FB posts so I thought I would put any people's minds at rest by describing my situation here in China.

This was my post on FB a few days ago

"At the moment I am in Yangshuo and haven't heard of any cases of the virus here. However, like everywhere else in China, it is like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie. Almost all shops and businesses are closed and the streets are largely deserted at what is usually the busiest time of year. This makes life difficult for people like me as I am living in what amounts to a hotel room with no facilities for cooking or storing food. I am reliant on the few restaurants that are still opening though what will happen if they close I don't know. I have no idea if this will be better by the time I am supposed to be back in Xianyang (10th) or even if the schools will be open. (Beijing has closed schools).
On the other hand you need to keep a sense of perspective. The death toll so far, considering the relative population sizes, is not even the equivalent of one death in England and almost all of them have been in Wuhan which I am nowhere near. Compare that to the 150,000 deaths in road accidents last year and I have considerably more chance of being run over than getting the virus. Doesn't mean I am completely complacent. I am wearing a mask when I go out but there are so few people about that there is no one to catch the disease from.
So for the moment I refuse to worry about it and will just go on taking the normal precautions.
I will keep you updated."

Here is some more information

It's infectious rate is about the same as for flu and considerably less than SARS or even measles.

The death rate among the infected is currently 2.17% compared to 9.5 for SARS, 0.1% for Flu and 60% for H5N1 Bird Flu.

It's spread by droplets so either by physical contact or extended time in a closed space with someone infected. Masks and lots of hand washing reduce the risk considerably.

Incubation is up to 14 days and the preventative measures only started 10 days ago so most cases up to now will have caught it before those measures were in place and in the next few days new infections should start to fall. The preventative measures here are comprehensive.

Among the deaths the vast majority are men over 65 with pre-existing conditions.


In short it's nowhere near as bad as the newspapers would have you believe and while there is, of course, always a small chance that anyone - even me - can catch it but I can't stress enough that it is a SMALL chance. So please don't be overly worried by the mass hysteria that seems to have gripped the world.
 
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Perhaps the press has tired of Borald and Donis and need some comedy relief? And "Brexit" sounds like what Caesar did with his toothbrush.
 
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Now the British Government has advised all British to leave China. Easy advice to give but not so easy to take. First, everything I own including a lot of vital documents (birth certificate, driving license, bank documents and so on) is in my apartment in a city almost 1000 miles away so I would have to go there first. Then I literally have nowhere to go in the UK. I can't imagine many people would want a long term (possibly very long term) houseguest, especially one arriving from China. I expect many hotels would also be reluctant to take guests from China and even if they did staying in hotels for any length of time would use all of my money pretty rapidly. I still think a lot of this is over reaction but either way I can't see any way that I can follow the official advice so though it's a tough call I think I will have to stick to my original plan and stay for at least a couple more weeks and then reassess the situation when I have been able to travel back to my own apartment.
 
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Oh, geez, Bob. I am so sorry. You could stay with us.

I have thought it was over-reaction all along, but now I am beginning to wonder. It doesn't seem to end, does it?

I'd love it if you would write an update here every so often. Actually, I was coming here to suggest that and then found your post.
 
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OK. Here's the first update.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has criticised the British Governments advice. They see it as an over reaction and have said that treating the situation as if the whole of china is equally at risk when the vast majority of cases are confined to one city in one province is wrong. They have pointed out that not everywhere is equally at risk.

Now here's a bit of maths. If you have ever studied epidemic spreads (and I'd bet good money that you have) you know that in an uncontrolled epidemic the number of cases rises exponentially (1 then 2 then 4 then 8 then 16 or a similar progression with a different multiplier) because each new case infects more than one other person. While it's true that the number of cases is still rising the rise is almost linear (1,2,3,4 etc). That's how it progresses when there limited new infections but previously infected but undiagnosed patients are gradually discovered. Consider that, in conjunction with the fact that the incubation period is up to 14 days but the first measures to stop the spread were only 12 days ago and the strongest measures only eight days ago,and the picture does not look anywhere near as grim as it might.

Final thing... I know I can count on my friends but I'd probably have a hard time getting into the US from China at the moment. Big Grin

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I know I can count on my friends but I'd probably have a hard time getting into the US from China at the moment.

As though you'd want to! Big Grin
 
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As you know I am currently staying in Yangshuo, one of the safest parts of China. I am taking sensible precautions and am not letting the situation worry me as that wouldn't help anything. That's not to say that the outbreak is without consequences. The consequences go far beyond the people who are sick and the risk to the people who are healthy. This video is of Yangshuo and it clearly, and rather poignantly, shows just what life is like here at the moment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieNJd9CyoeA

It is going to take a long time for places like this to recover even once the virus itself is dealt with.
 
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There is serious discrimination here in the US against Asians. In Chicago our Chinatown restaurants have lost 50% of their business. It is crazy!
 
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It appears that the origin of viruses has often been Asia, but Africa is right up there with Asia according to this chart: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_epidemics
So why the discrimination? WRT percentage of deaths, what became the USA tops the chart!
 
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Nothing new to report. The situation as pretty much as it was. If any of you saw the news that the number of cases has spiked again you should keep in mind that they changed the way of counting. Previously only confirmed cases were included in the statistics but as of a couple of days ago they have started including possible and probable unconfirmed cases which obviously resulted in a dramatic rise. In a typical Chinese move they have, mid-crisis, decided to have a purge of local Government and bring in people from Central Government to replace them. Not sure what they think they will achieve with that but it's fairly typical of how things get dealt with here.

As before my biggest problem is boredom. I have binge watched several low brow daytime British TV shows... and believe me they are no better than US daytime TV shows... mostly lightweight mystery dramas (think of Murder She Wrote for an appropriate comparison) and even found myself watching an episode of Bargain Hunt where people try to buy antiques at a fair and sell them for a profit at auction.

If I ever find myself watching Homes Under The Hammer you will hear no more from me because I will throw myself into the river.
 
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Nothing much new to report. The official figures show that outside Hubei province the number of new cases continues to fall. They may not be completely accurate but I think we can have some confidence in them, as they would have nothing to gain by encouraging people to go back to work and risking a dramatic rise. I continue to wait and see and watch lots of TV programs in an effort to drive off the boredom.
 
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So long as food and beer are available I suppose all will be well

BTW, have you become a good Chinese speaker? I can't expect you to have learned the alphabet yet, but otherwise?
 
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Originally posted by Geoff:
So long as food and beer are available I suppose all will be well

BTW, have you become a good Chinese speaker? I can't expect you to have learned the alphabet yet, but otherwise?


1. Food is limited. I am not supposed to leave my room so it's limited to McD, KFC and pizza delivered to my door by masked men who leave it, knock and run away. (Nothing wrong with me but a mass paranoia among the Chinese here.)
Beer I could get if I went to town to buy it but a recent attack of gout means I am off alcohol for the moment. (The gout has since gone away again but I always leave it a while before drinking)

2, Re my Chinese. I am a good teacher but a terrible student. My problem is that I can't hear any difference in the tones (I know people often don't believe me but it's true) and the very few words that, in theory, I know I pronounce so badly that no one understands me. Luckily my Chinese friends are considerably more accomplished in English.

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Still early to be confident but there is a degree of cautious optimism here. Excluding Hubei where the vast majority of the cases have occurred (mostly in two cities) the number of new cases has fallen for eighteen consecutive days.

(In real terms that is, the apparent spike was, as I mentioned before, due to a change in what was being counted and the inclusion of unconfirmed cases that hadn't been counted before.)
 
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That's how it's being reported here too.

I've not heard anything more about which animal it came from.
 
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Less good news today. The number of cases outside Hubei showed a quite large rise. We continue to wait and see and while there has been nothing official rumours are rife that schools will now not be returning until April.
 
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What will that do to your contract? Will it be honoured school or no?
 
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Nobody knows.The possible start date has been pushed back from the 1st of March to the middle of March.
However I am gladder than ever to be away from my apartment and in Yangshuo. I heard today that there was a case in my apartment block and the block has been placed in quarantine.
 
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Good lord Bob. Just tuned in & read all your posts. Have you a way to get reading material or have any books with you? You mentioned BBC daytime shows-- any other viewing options?

Knowing you I'll bet you're doing some writing...
 
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I tend to be able to find a lot of popular series - from current shows to things so far in the archives that... forget that, American archive shows never die, they live on forever in syndication. So I can easily find on Youtube old Columbo or Rockford Files episodes. I could get reading material for my phone or computer but I find I can't actually read that way. ten minute in and I am looking for something else to do. For me it has to be printed in the form of an actual book, and those I can't get at all.

Still in YS, still bored. Might be returning to Xianyang some time next week as my school is planning to start lessons. The stumbling block is that my apartment block is in quarantine because someone there had the virus. Can't return until it's lifted and not sure I want to.
 
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The reason for the lack of updates is that there is a lack of things TO update.
Still in Yangshuo.
Still don't know when I can return to Xianyang.
Still don't know when school will start.
Still bored,

What can I add? Let's see.
Losing all track of time. Spent all morning yesterday convinced that it was Tuesday. It was, of course, Thursday.
Lack of places to eat or any way to cook means I last ate a vegetable that wasn't a potato about a month ago. May mutate into Donald Trump at this rate.
Did I mention still bored? Oh yes, I did. Well, STILL, still bored.
More non-updates to follow as they don't become available.
 
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Update:Well that makes no sense

At the moment they are considering allowing schools to restart but NOT foreign teachers. They are concerned that teachers returning from overseas might restart the outbreak here and undo the work they have done to prevent it. The rule is to be applied to all foreigners including the ones, like me, who haven't left China during the infection period. Seems that the Chinese Government is every bit as logical as the American and British.
 
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The greatest pestilence is politics.
 
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Spot on description of life everywhere in China although here in Yangshuo we are starting to see people on the streets again and a few shops and restaurants have reopened now.
 
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In response to good wishes from my old English teacher, I just posted this on FB.

It's actually not as bad here as you would expect. Outside Hubei province there are very few cases and on some days no new cases at all. Of course, had I heeded the British Government advice to fly home weeks ago I would now be in one of the areas where it is spreading rather than one of the areas where it isn't. That may change when the authorities here finally allow everyone to move freely and go back to work. The biggest problem is the "cabin fever" nature of the situation. Without checking I honestly have no idea which day it is because all I can do on any day is sit and watch movies on my computer. Or write... I now have a cycle of ten poems though as things are going here it could end up longer than Beowulf. Hell, I just googled "long poems" and it could end up longer than Byron's Don Juan which Professor Google informs me is almost 16000 lines.
And no, I haven't read it. I find Byron both pompous and ponderous for the most part. However I did glance at it on Project Gutenberg and found that verse three of the dedication is this

You, Bob, are rather insolent, you know,
At being disappointed in your wish
To supersede all warblers here below,
And be the only blackbird in the dish.
And then you overstrain yourself, or so,
And tumble downward like the flying fish
Gasping on deck, because you soar too high,
Bob, And fall for lack of moisture quite a dry Bob.

The Bob in question isn’t me as it predates me by around 140 years, though if the “lack of moisture” refers to decent beer it could be considered apt.
 
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Oh Bob you've been immortalized by Byron Smile Big Grin
Those words must have jumped off the page!
 
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Some news.
It seems that I will shortly be returning to Xianyang as they want to see me this afternoon to make the arrangements. Meanwhile, internet conspiracy theories notwithstanding, China seems to be getting things under control as the number of new cases each day is now very low. Here in Yangshuo there are more people about but it's still a very long way from normal.
Although I will be returning to Xianyang I won't be returning to my school as first I will have to self-isolate for two weeks and then my students probably won't be back before mid to late April. I just hope there is someone who can fetch some food for me as I won't be able to go out and get my own.
 
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It's now confirmed. I will be returning to my own apartment in Xianyang on Sunday. There is a strong possibility that I won't need to isolate as I will immediately have to go for a test to check if I have the virus. If that test shows that I don't then I will only have had to isolate until I get the result. Two days. I will still need two days worth of food followed by a mammoth shopping expedition but that's not as bad as fourteen days. As for social distancing - that's pretty much my entire life in Xianyang so not a problem.
 
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Reports here are that China and South Korea have both gotten the virus under control. In China's case, one can attribute it to the authoritarian government's establishing near absolute control. I don't know about South Korea. In Europe and the USA, getting people to comply with isolation orders is like herding cats. We'll pay for it in the end.

We've had another confirmed case here. The hospital is upwind from here, so I'll not be surprised if I get it, and this 75-year-old asthmatic ends up as a statistic.
 
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Geoff, all I can say is follow the advice of the doctors. Frequent washing, as little social contact as possible, avoid anywhere with crowds, don't touch your face, buy five hundred toilet rolls.

One of those isn't true.

Let's hope that both of us are around for many years to come.

You are partly right about the reasons China has it under control but the truth is they hardly needed to use any authoritarian control as most people here, once advised (rather than ordered) about what to do, just did it. For example there has been no need for the Government to say don't be greedy and selfish and panic buy everything because that just wouldn't occur to anyone. I saw a video from the UK of literally hundreds of people squashed tightly together waiting for the doors of a supermarket to open so that they could race in and strip the shelves. Here I have had my temperature taken and had to wear a mask to use the supermarket but it's all been very civilized.

As for South Korea they reacted quickly, producing masks and especially test kits and distributing them efficiently.

Anyway, please try to stay healthy and if that means staying away from everyone then become a hermit for a few months.
 
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No need for more toilet rolls. A former neighbor from our country home came by with a carload of corn cobs. You can wash them off and re-use! And no trees are used in the process!

If I had any money I'd invest heavily in corn futures and bidets!
 
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It sure is crummy around here. Nothing to do. Nothing open. Everyone working from home so the internet goes down and the conference call lines are busy. When will this end? New York is becoming the new epicenter of the world.

I heard an NPR about Taiwan. They learned their lesson from SARS and hunkered down immediately. They had like 49 cases and 1 death by doing it right.
 
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I have been talking to my brother. The situation in the UK is grim. All shops except for food and medicine are closed. All business have been told that their staff must work from home if that is possible and must be able to explain why it isn't possible if they don't. All public gatherings including religious ceremonies, weddings and christenings (but not funerals) are banned. People are not allowed to leave their homes except to buy essential supplies and can be challenged by the police and fined. Any gathering of more than two people is banned. This applies across the whole of the UK. When people do go to the shops there is almost no food in them, shelves are mostly empty. Food deliveries are allowed but most stores have an up to three week waiting list to get stock and find a delivery slot.

On a related note when I renewed my contract last year two options offered me by friends were to leave China and work in Italy or to leave and work in Spain. I am very very happy that I chose to stay in China.
 
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If you had gone to Italy by the time you got there you'd be the oldest person in the country!
 
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Great idea to stay in China, but they had their time too. It is just that you were the first, so now you are more finished with it than we are.

Our position is just like your brothers. Literally nothing is open. Weddings are cancelled and funerals are not held - only graveside services with 10 or fewer. It seems never ending...
 
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My colleague knows this doctor.
 
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Things are similar here in central NJ, Kalleh. Fortunately liquor stores are considered "essential" in the tri-state area, so I can get my daily wine Big Grin . Shopping-wise, I typically only ever went to grocery, pharmacy, liquor store, gas station [& fortunately here there's no self-service by law]& occasionally convenience store, so in that sense I don't feel store closures. But I've reverted to the habits ingrained in those raised rural in '50's-'60's, i.e., go shopping only every 10 days or less; stock up; cook your own meals most days. That used to be about saving gas/ lack of [in those days] nearby grocers/ restaurants/ take-out - plus the fact that home cooking used to cost 1/4 of eating out/ take-out [today more like 1/2].... Now it's about minimizing exposure to others.

NJ'ans seem to be catching on, if slowly.
My first shopping trip-- to stock up-- was 2-1/2 wks ago. I was in self-quarantine due to a [faintly] possible exposure via a school-aide's child. She'd brought her elem sch kid to her PreK job-- DUH!-- on learning that a.m. that his district was closed (a student's parent tested positive-- 11th NJ case). Things were SOP at the grocer; I wore gloves & kept my distance. By 10 days later (replenishing fresh produce), the store had set aside 1st 2 hrs for elderly/ vulnerable-- but only one cashier wearing gloves! On that trip, I noticed for the 1st time a handful of shoppers wearing masks. It's 5 days later: per local reports, someone on staff there tested positive; they've stepped up the sanitizing, & installed plexiglass separators between customers and cashiers.
 
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Well I am on my way back to xianyang. Check in at Guilin was smooth enough but wouldn’t have been if my office hadn’t booked a great taxi driver and arranged for him to help me fill in all the health declaration forms which are in Chinese. I doubt I could have done it without help. Now I have to wait and see what happens when I get to XiAn.
 
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Good to hear it's working out well, Bob! Let's hope the end of lockdown wasn't too soon!

Beethree, it sounds as though NJ is more locked down than we are in Indiana. I've gone to a nearby Aldi for the last three Sundays, just at opening time. I've been the only masked person two out of the three times.

Last night we watched a PBS show about the 1918 pandemic. It seems the only thing that stopped it was that it ran out of vulnerable victims! At least we know what kind of bug it is this time.

Our only issue is our plumbing. Muncie has an archaic combined sewer outflow system that allows sewage to mix with storm water. We had a severe thunderstorm last night which resulted in the drain in my shop area overflowing with the neighbors feces. Forget CoVid-19, think cholera! Thank goodness for bleach and Lysol!
 
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Our lockdown is virtually over except in Hubei province. Once you have the all clear app on the phone and, as a foreigner, the paper from the hospital you can go anywhere
 
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Currently, the CDC is not recommending masks for everyone, though this article (you may have to sign up for Medscape to read it, but it is free) says differently. The problem is, like toilet paper, paper towels, antiseptic wipes, bleach, alcohol and PPE for health care workers generally, masks aren't available, at least where we are.
 
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Geoff, re: overflow - gagme! Eek

In 1992 we became only the 4th owner of our 1928 home - the local system is fine, but somehow previous owners got away w/never updating the antiquated house system. We had a couple of expensive emergency rotorooter visits plus the nasty cleanup before getting it fixed. Can't imagine having to do that regularly - hopefully your RE taxes are low...
 
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We're looking for another house - OUT OF TOWN!!!
 
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I have a son and sister who are working with COVID-19 patients, so I am a nervous wreck. I think this doctor has something.
 
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WOW!!! This video nails it!!!
 
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A report on the BBC says that in Walsall (the adjacent town to my home town) police have had to visit a number of pubs and restaurants which have been opening to regular customers throughout the lockdown. A couple of weeks ago talking to one of my friends he said that he wouldn't be surprised to find some pubs in our hometown holding lock-ins rather than lockdowns. (If this term is unfamiliar to US readers it is the practice of putting down the blinds and locking the doors with customers still inside so that they can continue drinking outside the legal licensing hours.) It's common but of course illegal.

But on point, why are these places opening at all? They will do a whole lot less business if their customers all start dying.
 
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Oh gosh, Bob, that is terrible. I don't get it at all.

We haven't had lock-ins here as far as I know, but we do have states that are not sheltering in place. They are all led by Republican governors.
 
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Lock-ins are an old tradition in England. Pubs used to have to stop serving at 10:30 p.m. This was called "calling time" and ten minutes was allowed to drink up after which everyone had to leave. Pubs would often have a back room not easily visible from the street or to any passing constable where a few of the regulars would continue drinking after time. Of course this was an open secret to the police force and sometimes those constables might even pop in for a drink themselves.
With relaxing of licensing laws the practice diminished although there are still pubs that can be found operating on an "if there's a customer then we are open" basis.

It does however seem to be making a very stupid come-back now that pubs are required to be be closed because of the pandemic. Some pubs here are operating the way speakeasies in the US did during prohibition.

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Our most batshit crazy former celebrity is David Icke - he of the "world is controlled by lizard people" theory - who apparently did an interview that has now been removed from Youtube and prompted a ban on similar content.

First he was promoting the idiotic nonsense that the virus doesn't exist and the symptoms are all being caused by 5G. That's one I had already heard. I hadn't previously heard the other half of it... there is a way to cure it but they will pretend later to have just found a vaccine. That will be a lie. The cure will be to inject nanobots into us that allow the secret world government (presumably the secret world lizard government) to monitor and control everyone.

As I have said before there is NO THEORY so insane that you won't be able to find people who believe it.
 
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