as_the_crow_flies comments

Posted in: Japan, Britain sign free trade deal for post-Brexit era See in context

At least it should be easier to buy stuff online from Blighty, even if they don't sell it here. Looking forward to getting shoes without getting hit with Y5000 import duties as happened last time I tried it.

But deliveries might get caught up in generally snarled up shipping situations over there from January, the way things are looking at the moment, so lay off the online Stilton orders for now.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Posted in: UK announces first major post-Brexit trade deal -- with Japan See in context

The UK is free from these oppressive dictators. 

Well, sort of. Apparently it turns out Japan is imposing even stricter state aid rules than the UK-EU withdrawal agreement. And Bojo has threatened to break international law because he has changed his mind about the conditions on a level playing field written into the withdrawal agreement. Then along comes Japan, requires stricter conditions, and Bojo says 'how far would you like me to bend?'

Course, Japan better watch out as Dominic Cummings might tell Bojo to renege on what he just agreed 6 months down the line, and bleat that what is being agreed now is unfair and unreasonable. But probably not - beggars can't be choosers.

Not sure whether to laugh or cry.

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Posted in: UK announces first major post-Brexit trade deal -- with Japan See in context

As the article says, this is basically just to replace the existing deal that UK benefits from as if it was still an EU member until the end of this year. So the X billions it is worth is really what the UK would otherwise lose from next January. It may have a couple of miniscule bells and whistles of benefit to the UK, like crumbs of cheese, but as the article says, Japan has been able to make the most of the UK gov's desperation to win itself more beneficial terms in this deal (trains). Actually, it cannot give the UK better terms than the current EU - Japan deal, unless Japan has already decided to concede exactly the same terms to the EU, as part of its already signed and active trade deal with the EU.

The UK minister can go and crow from the rooftops to make it sound like she’s won big, when everyone knows she’s at best holding on to what the UK still has for the next 3 months.

It’s better than nothing. I am sure Japan is playing wait and see with any future developments, to find out if Japanese companies based in the UK will have any access to the EU market before they decide whether to run down or pull out operations, and their government’s policy will support them in that.

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Posted in: No. of new coronavirus cases in Tokyo falls to 95 See in context

Why don't they just change the headline to the numbers tested each day? Something like 'Tests fall by 50% compared to yesterday'. What they do with these articles is just noise. Btw, according to this site

4830 were tested on the 18th, and 1978 on 21st (latest figure they give on this site).

It would be more meaningful to give a 7 day average to iron out the daily fluctuations in numbers tested, so at least it would give a sense of a trend.

With scattershot data like this, it just become a ritual of trying to explain the numbers, rather than the numbers giving us useful information.

I would like to know what is happening with contact tracing and isolation? Have these been ramped up to deal with the increasing exposure that comes from reopening schools and other places?

I saw a random fact dropped by Koike a day or two ago that household transmission is on the increase. So if that is the case, which sounds plausible, what is being done to respond to that trend?

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Posted in: Japan eyes 'energy forests' for woody biomass power generation See in context

In a commonsense world, Japan would:

Phase out brown envelope driven policies.

Phase out cedar planting over most areas, to reduce hay fever (not energy related).

reduce energy consumption and increase recycling.

Focus more on small scale energy production and consumption to increase efficiency.

increase energy efficiency of buildings, specially with green areas, living walls/roofs/the latest solar energy techniques.

develop wind farms.

develop geothermal.

rationalise the grid system.

develop biodiverse forests, not move to another mistaken one type solution that turns out to be a problem over the following decades. Work with local watersheds and maximise local water harvesting.

plant to stabilise mountainsides, rewilding the steepest, most unstable ones.

Have burning biomass as a last resort, where saving/recycling/reusing can't be carried out.

Phase out coal fired plants and nuclear, and make rational plans for hydro electric plants as they age. A lot were environmental disasters, and should not be replaced when they reach the end of their lives.

Oh wouldn't it be loverly .....?

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Posted in: Plastic bag usage at Japanese stores down by 50%, but plastic bags sales through the roof See in context

Any suggestions of what to do with wet/smelly food that you need to throw away? 

If compostable, compost it. You can compost using a cardboard box - you don't need a garden. Alternatively, start a wormery on your balcony - that will see off more the potentially smelly scraps. By reducing moisture this way, you'll find the smell in your bin virtually disappears.

If in a building, campaign for the management committee to create a composting space or get a communal composter.

Campaign for your chonaikai (neighbourhood association) to start composting bins in gardens or green space around your area. There are lots of cheap, quick and easy ways to do this. They can be made in minutes with a packet of zip ties and a roll of wire mesh, or with wooden boards.

If it's stuff like fish, like others said, put it one of the many smaller plastic bags you get goods in, such as for bread (which there are also far too many of), and stick it in the fridge/ freezer till rubbish day.

Line your waste bin with newspaper - that helps to prevent smells, even in summer.

Buy less overpackaged stuff and the volume of plastic to throw away will reduce dramatically.

Reuse food bags and take them to veg stores or bakeries. Ask them to put your goods in those. Better still, make washable cloth bags and do without the plastic altogether.

Do these things in small steps, starting with the easiest, and you'll find they become just a part of your routine. You'll be amazed as you see your plastic gomi shrink to a fraction of the average here in Japan.

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Posted in: Tokyo reports 131 new coronavirus cases; under 200 for 1st time in week See in context

These numbers will go up and down so we need to learn how to live with it.

Curious logic there.

Alternatively, look at the 7 day average:

It clearly shows an upward trend.

Also as we know, some countries are effectively controlling it, but Japan is clearly not:

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Posted in: Japanese government to urge more teleworking as coronavirus cases surge See in context

Makes sense I suppose. But keep it cool while you’re at it eh, quit the endless worrying and fear and the rest of it, just keep it together ok.

I guess that, scientifically speaking, keeping cool makes you immune, just like the radioactivity back after 3/11 that wouldn’t affect you if you smiled, right?

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Posted in: Cirque du Soleil accepts purchase offer from creditors See in context

I worked on a production with former members of Cirque de Soleil for the Channel Tunnel opening in the mid 1990's. Seeing their daring, skill, magic and creativity up close was a revelation. They had groundbreaking new ideas and as someone said, reinvented the circus for modern times.

A crying shame they have come to the end of the road, whatever the reasons may be. I hope a phoenix will rise from the ashes before too long.

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Posted in: Japan reports over 600 cases on Thursday; 286 in Tokyo See in context

This article referred to the problems for funeral directors of not being informed by hospitals of the cause of death. It mentioned that in general (not just during the pandemic) a third of deaths in Japan are from pneumonia.

Funeral workers therefore don't know whether they are handling a potentially infected body.

"Pneumonia claimed the lives of approximately 94,000 people in Japan in 2018. Additionally, there were some 38,000 deaths from aspiration pneumonia, caused by accidentally inhaling food, liquid or other matter into the lungs. Putting these two figures together gives a total of over 130,000. As of March 29, the number of deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus stood at 66."

That looks like a lot of scope for 'not getting round to' testing for Covid19 before someone dies, and so then recording cause of death as pneumonia. And of course Covid can also cause serious kidney or heart failure too. It doesn't have to be a conspiracy either. Covid19 infection in a hospital seriously hits their bottom line, so many places will be reluctant to be associated with Covid19 patients., as they are already facing loss of business from patients who are staying away, worried about getting infected.

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Posted in: Why are so many Japanese women pigeon toed? See in context

Yes, that full nappy waddle. I remember seeing some teenage tourists in a hotel in Manchester in full goth gear, waddling round the hotel lobby looking gormless, and I remember thinking they probably had some developmental issue. Then I came here and worked in a high school, and full 80% of the students waddled in the same way. I do remember thinking it works okay if you’re wearing a yukata or kimono, but in a short skirt and the loose socks they wore at that time, they looked like a parody of an anime character. I reckon if you do it for enough years it becomes second nature, and you probably twist tendons and muscles out of whack, until you can’ t stop even if you try. Just idle musings though.

I can well believe that it’s either a turn on for many Japanese males, or else the girls think it’s kako iiiiii, and don’t care whether men like it or not.

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Posted in: Japan revises law to make more part-timers join pension program See in context

Article is badly written and gives a very negative impression of the proposed change. I'm glad they are improving coverage of shakai hoken of part time workers. I think they should introduce it faster, so that people can build up enough contributions to have a reasonable pension. The payouts need revising upwards, as they are not enough to live on. Increasing the allowance so that you can earn a living wage is also right.

That said, the idea of incentivising people to keep working with the payback that your eventually payout will climb noticeably and makes it worth your while to do so is not a bad one. If you go into the pension office or use the online tracker, you can see how you are getting on. And once you get past 61, there is a lot of flexibility built in, so you can decide month by month. If you start to get hacked off with your job or the commute, you can just decide that month to start claiming pension. If your final pension is based on a mix of your contributions and the meter ticking, it is an incentive. Noone is being forced to work to 75, but if you feel healthy and want to keep working and contributing to the pot for another 3 or 4 years, surely that's a good idea for everyone.

This is completely different to raising the pension age, which is like moving the goalposts.

And once you have got 120 months of contributions, you qualify for pension, even if you are no longer in Japan.

It's certainly not perfect, but get the facts before you bash it out of hand.

What they should be doing and soon, is making more bilateral agreements, so more of us migrants can get pension based on contributions in our home or other countries.

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Posted in: Japan aims to revive tourism industry by subsidizing people to go on vacation See in context

If they want to get tourism up and running again, get a proper test, trace, track, treat regime up and running everywhere in Japan. Finance the health service to do this, including the private clinics, if you want to stimulate the economy.

Get a few people teams in the Ministries to connect up with counterparts in successful countries like Taiwan, New Zealand, Korea, Portugal. Be humble and learn from others!

Link up with the hospitality industry to work out a quarantine regime using hotels etc, so overseas visitors can contemplate coming to Japan further down the line. (Though how that will work with most people unlikely to come for more than two weeks, I haven’t a clue, tbh).

Perhaps then Japan can mitigate future waves and also inspire confidence from foreign travellers in future. If anyone has the money to come here, that is.

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Posted in: Japan aims to revive tourism industry by subsidizing people to go on vacation See in context

"Go to travel"

"Let’s trip."

"Enjoy fun time!"

"Yes Omotenashi! But please mask!

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Posted in: Children's cafeterias using COVID-19 crisis to consolidate community See in context

This is wonderful. In the UK, schools are staying open for vulnerable children, as many would go hungry without the breakfast club or free school lunches, as well as to provide a safe place to be. As Japanese schools are either all open or completely closed, voluntary groups like this are providing a vital link for so many families.

Absolutely fantastic to hear about, and it seems their 3-11 experience has made them much better at adapting quickly to whatever the latest situation is. A massive lesson for the rest of the society.

Can you imagine what kind of sad individuals the complaining locals who report them for supposedly violating social distancing rules?

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Posted in: How lax rules, missed warnings led to Japan's 2nd virus cruise ship hot spot See in context

The lack of a clear timeline with dates for each events makes it very difficult to unpick this story and work out any possible causality. From which dates were crew being flown in from other countries, and where from? When was the first case on board the ship reported?

My feeling from previous reports and from the apparent timeline of this is that ship docked in Nagasaki back in January, virus free. Then someone/some people in the crew picked up the virus on land and took it back on board, and then the onboard outbreak took off. So it seems like while local residents are assuming a dirty foreign ship brought the virus in, actually its more likely the locals should be apologising to the crew for passing on the infection to them. But with hardly any testing, we will probably never know.

Whichever way it was, sounds like complacency and incompetence all round from the cruise line, the shipfitting company, and the local/national government.

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Posted in: Japan preparing to extend coronavirus emergency for about a month See in context

My guess is the govt will want to flatten the curve more than it is showing here:

New cases havent slowed enough, deaths still increasing too much. If the estimate of 6% of the population has been infected is actually the case, the potential for the new case rate to take off again is still very high. It would mean 7 or 8 million people have been infected at some point. Of those, there is likely to be a significant number of asymptomatic carriers who have not shown symptoms, are not aware they are positive, and are currently infectious. This is probably the main source of spread of the virus. Even if asymptomatic infections patients ”only” numbered 500,000, the potential for explosive growth is definitely there. 'My guess is that experts have advised the government of this.

The annoying thing is Japans stubborness and refusal to learn from others’ hard earned experience, which could make the response here so much more effective. For example, countries that are living through the worst outbreaks have found that early detection of falling blood oxygen levels and proactive treatment can hugely improve outcomes, lower the deathrate and the need for ventilators.

Instead of admitting all positive cases to hospital, if they could properly monitor them and pro-actively treat anyone whose blood oxygen level shows signs of dropping, it would be better for patients and the health system. Insisting on specific symptoms (persistent fever) before testing is likely to actually produce worse outcomes (serious/critical illness) for many of us. Totally counter-productive. Instead of complaining about mild cases clogging up the system, why dont they change their protocols?

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Posted in: Japan reports 25 new coronavirus deaths; highest for single day See in context

I reckon you can multiply the official number of 11,137 by 10 unfortunately. I hear some people immediately shouting ‘but where are the deaths then?’ - Because they aren’t testing people, they wont know why they’ve died. How many deaths have simply been mistaken as pneumonia or flu, especially among the elderly?

Totally agree, and countries that believe in useful health data and transparency are working to revise their Covid-19 death figures up to include non-hospital deaths. I think some UK media for example are referring to daily hospital deaths, to make this clear. Usually there is a time lag to get the figures though, so we cant get one neatly packaged figure the next day.

Thanks to the poster above who gave links to articles on this:

So, for example:

Soon, the Netherlands will also be retroactively registering nursing home deaths, as well as those that occurred at home. For this purpose, the Dutch are developing a national system for primary care physicians and others to record deaths due to COVID-19 that have thus far not been officially tallied. Experts believe this could eventually add thousands of deaths to the nation’s count.

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Posted in: Gov't waiting for Golden Week to decide on extending state of emergency See in context

OK, first few months... This 'exponential rise' that was supposed to bring on the Apocalypse has gone from a few days, to a few weeks - now you're telling me a few months. Best to shut down everyone's livelihood just in case, eh? Again. Balance? Just stop perpetuating the fear, please!

Well, just take a look at the data. (Sorry, no data on "fear", just on cases, recoveries/ deaths etc.)

(Admittedly, only reported cases, so you can multiply by a factor of ten or so, depending on your sources or biases). If you look at the Total Coronavirus Cases in Japan graph, its curving smoothly up at a steadily steeper angle. The orange deaths curve is going up even steeper. So easing restrictions is a smart idea because ...?

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Posted in: Japanese health care facilities stretched thin, doctors say See in context

@Bruce Chatwin. thanks for the link, that site you recommend is very clear. As the graphic shows, most of the cases are in areas with insufficient capacity for Covid19 patients (Kanagawa, 74 beds??). Even so, 1000 ICU spaces for a Tokyo with 13m people...??!! As you say, the number of doctors/100,000 people is much lower than other advanced countries. Which goes some way to explaining why they are saying the system is under strain. Its not ready, and not set up to respond to a fast changing situation.

So clearly, the J government has not made the use of the 3 month window it had to get ready for an outbreak. On top of that I believe that two things are at play.

First, an obsessive refusal to test many likely cases, even with symptoms, for political reasons *ie with an eye on future votes. Now they are tapering the increase in reported figures so that the number of foesnt too obviously shoot up straight after the cancellation of the Olympics. Also, unconfirmed Covid19 cases can be then declared as other causes of death e.g. plain pneumonia, cancer, diabetes complications etc, also minimising the extent of the outbreak to the public.

Second, official media reporting doesnt focus too insistently on the situation on the ground in hospitals (very different to where I come from). People tend to take the numbers at face value as there is very little reporting from in hospitals, analysis or comparison with other countries. The media gives the government an easy ride when it confuses and minimises, and its shambolic response. So even when politicians talk about strain on the system, the lack of context or detail doesnt give people a handle to connect it to the situation they are living now. Added to which, most people would rather not hear really bad news.

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Posted in: Japanese health care facilities stretched thin, doctors say See in context

Is it just me, or does it seem odd that they say services are already stretched thin with 7.000 cases in an advanced country of 126 million? 2014 figures say there are around 8,000 hospitals, over 1.5m beds, over 300,000 doctors, and nearly 1.5m nurses. How can the health system be swamped?

Unless ... say, there are actually many, many more cases, but they are not yet tested for Covid 19, so they are considered complications from diabetes, or heart trouble, or flu, or maybe ’just’ pneumonia. Pneumonia is the third cause of death after cancer and I think, heart failure. If 7,000 cases can stretch the health system thin, what will happen when the pandemic really starts to bite here?

So could it, just possibly, be that the number of infected people is way way higher than the official figures? I wonder ...

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Posted in: Tokyo confirms 143 new coronavirus infections Sunday See in context

Where are the severe cases and deaths associated with the imaginary number of infected? If they are ten times, hundred times more then there has to be a proportionate number of severe cases and deaths. Surely there are a lot of untested, undetected cases out there but don't let your imaginations go too wild

From what the article below says, theres plenty of room to tuck coronavirus deaths into the overall pneumonia deaths, which are the third most common cause of death in Japan. Simply by holding back on testing when someone presents with severe symptoms and then dies untested, they dont need to be counted as coronavirus cases. Convenient. In fact, this puts funeral workers at risk, because hospitals dont notify them of untested bodies. And no conspiracy is necessary either - theres stigma around coronavirus, so institutions and families may prefer that a death just counted as generic pneumonia.

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Posted in: Foreigners given extra 3 months to renew stay due to coronavirus See in context

Serena, for your peace of mind, you could do two things. You could try asking at a main police station (not a small local one) or you could try ringing the immingration bureau to ask, (if you can get through on the phone), so you don't have to go there in person.

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Posted in: 7 Japanese superfoods to boost your immune system See in context

There are some rather angry people out there. And so many people are apparently experts at being experts.

Er no, they're just pointing out that any article with the phrase "boost your immune system" is quack psuedo-science. They're pointing it out now, as the placing of the article at a time where there are so many people anxious and looking to protect themselves, puts them at risk of being scammed. You don't need to be angry or an expert to state that.

Most have also pointed out that all the foods do have some proven health benefits, just no special powers.

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Posted in: Japan testing for coronavirus at fraction of capacity See in context

Then goes on to quote something that has nothing to do with Nihonjinron.

Fair point, @thorogou! Actually should have checked my post before firing it off incomplete. What I meant is that exceptionalism, wherever in the world it rears its head, and Nihonjinron is one example, relies on circular arguments. People start from the idea that "Japan is unique", make an observation e.g. reported numbers of Covid 19 are relatively low in Japan (so far), state that this is because there are few cases, and then trot out a "unique Japan" simplistic assertion along the lines of "it’s the culture" to explain this. Newsflash - Japan is not unique in being unique, and it would help protect us all if right now the government was guided by science, both from within Japan, from other countries and from international bodies.

It is equally possible that the numbers of reported cases are low in Japan because of the restrictive testing regime. And the experience of other countries says that you can have a period of weeks where community spread is gathering pace, with relatively low numbers of serious cases, but then explode. This is why it is premature to assume numbers have peaked in Japan, in the absence of widespread testing to measure this. Conversely, when numbers start to shoot up, it will take weeks to see the results from drastic action to slow the spread of the disease. Health experts predict that the radical measures being carried out in Italy are only likely to start bearing fruit around 38-40 from when they are introduced.

So as part of a comprehensive approach, "test, test, test."

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Posted in: Why Italy? The factors behind a coronavirus disaster See in context

Compare Japan - in public little displays of affection, kissing, hugging, shaking hands, almost no skinship; with Italian warmth and physical familiarity, embracing, kissing, etc.

If this is really a factor, then consider which age group in Japan does has massive warmth and physical familiarity with others: small children with their parents/ grandparents/ professional carers. So we should expect, if they were tested, large numbers of (possibly asymptomatic) Coronavirus positive small children, and a spike in sick adults who have had contact with them. But because of the (non) testing regime, dont expect any hard data to support this idea any time soon.

In the meantime, lets be cautious and not use the past tense to discuss any countrys case: this outbreak is not over, anywhere, any time soon.

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Posted in: Japan testing for coronavirus at fraction of capacity See in context

I always found Nihonjinron frustrating, but I hadn't realised how dangerous it was until I read some of the comments in recent weeks. Seeing some of the magical thinking makes me realise the failings of some countries' education systems (not just Japan, as many posters here are not Japanese). I know logical thinking is in short supply in this country, but the shortness shown by some posters on here is truly gobsmacking. For example:

If they do not test you for Covid-19 you don't have it, you have something else.

Example A: You are asymptomatic, but they don't test you. They don't test you, therefore you don't have Covid 19.

Example B: You are feeling unwell and ask for a test, but they refuse to test you. They refuse to test you, therefore you don't have Covid 19.

If your head is in the sand, it will be dark. This does not mean it is necessarily night time.

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Posted in: No. of coronavirus infections in Japan passes 1,000 See in context

Sorry, its worrying that the Japanese government and bureaucracy are NOT making the most of the extra preparation time we have had.

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Posted in: No. of coronavirus infections in Japan passes 1,000 See in context

Fear mongering much?

No, not fearmongering. It is very worrying that the Japanese government and bureaucracy are making the most of the extra time Japan seems to have had before the outbreak really hits. Even if the fact that people tend to keep their distance more and the widespread use of masks have been a factor - its a pure hypothesis at this point, nobody knows - all that means is that Japan has bought time. The amount of trade and tourism with China and Korea means that it is certain that there is community spread. This is a ticking time bomb, as the US is learning to its cost.

The idiocy, incompetence and self interest of the Japanese government means they are deliberately limiting testing to some sort of "scientific study", meaning we are all their laboratory. Testing in Japan is not aimed at tracing and limiting spread.

Its not a case of if, but when the outbreak hits, and this country is so not prepared for it. Experts (yes they do exist here, but the government is not taking their advice)

Experts say they are being ignored, and there is not discussion in the media of increasing intensive care facilities and providing medical staff with adequate PPE (protective equipment). This is already a desperate shortage in the US, despite the fact that the epidemic has hardly taken off there yet.

If Japan wants to avoid scenes like this (Italy at present_

it needs to change policy radically, immediately.

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Posted in: Olympic 'Flame of Recovery' tour scaled down due to coronavirus worries See in context

Recovery. What recovery?

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