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Days of the Virus: COVID-19 and its Consequences

Coronavirus looked like it was going to radically change the world. But if it managed to bring people together as they commiserated about their common fear, it also let loose a shuddering flood of suspicion and generosity, xenophobia and acceptance, hatred and tenderness, superstition and investigative potential.

Some compared it to the 1918 Spanish Flu, but without the internet those who had been affected a hundred years earlier didn't know they were part of a vast suffering community. With COVID-19, people from around the world watched other communities cope and fall apart, their favourite celebrities break down on screen, and conspiracy fantasies proliferate. Such was the temper of the times that the words of mad people online began seem as valid as the statistics of the disease, and statements from health authorities seemed to be laced with fear and suspicion.

Into this maelstrom of dread and mayhem, a small group of people found their lives shredded or enhanced, as they struggled to survive the new circumstances of widespread fear, contagion, and government crackdowns. With the internet to fuel their doubts and delights, they sought for answers from a system which had been built more for entertainment than scholarly pursuit. Seeking to learn when the pandemic would end, they didn't know if they were constructing a new community from strangers or would be greeted by snarling dogs at their door.

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