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The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus to be a global emergency. The announcement comes after weeks of the WHO monitoring the spread of the virus. The WHO had refrained from declaring a global emergency earlier in the outbreak due to the fact that the virus hadn’t been confirmed in enough countries. The virus has now been confirmed in 18 countries with expectations that it will be discovered in more soon.

The virus began in Wuhan, China and caused the Chinese government to lock down the city. They ordered all residents of Wuhan to remain in their homes and have only allowed foreign citizens to leave. Japan, the US, UK and France are some of the countries who have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan with the permission of the Chinese government. Most countries have quarantined all the citizens who have come from Wuhan. There has been controversy in Japan as the Japanese government has not been quarantining everyone who has returned from Wuhan. Three Japanese people returning from Wuhan have tested positive for the virus and have been taken to a special medical facility.

Precautions have been taken around the world to try and limit the spread of the virus. In Hong Kong, winter vacation for schools has been extended by two weeks. International companies with offices in China have been closing their operations and some countries have been testing anyone flying in from China.

The virus originating in China has been the cause of xenophobia in some areas of the world. Misinformation on the internet and in the media has caused some people to falsely blame Chinese people and Chinese culture for the spread of the virus. In some cases, Asian people confused to be Chinese have also been targeted. There have been reports in Italy of Chinese tourists being banned from restaurants and in one case, they were asked not to come to class, along with Japanese and South Korean students. Asian people have been fighting back against the xenophobia, accusing people of not understanding that Asian people are from different countries. In France, the hashtag “I am not a virus” has been trending on Twitter from Chinese people upset over the reactions from uninformed people.

The WHO has meanwhile praised the efforts of the Chinese government because of their handling of the virus. Dr Tedros of the WHO commended the “extraordinary measures” taken by the Chinese authorities. He also stated, “Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China”. Reports from China about the handling of the virus have been met with astonishment around the world. The most widely reported of which was the Chinese government’s plan to build a completely new hospital in six days in order to help tackle the virus.

Difficult words

Refrain (v): To stop oneself from doing something.

Outbreak (n): A sudden occurrence of something unwelcome.

Lock down (phrasal verb): To close and not allow others to come in or out.

Evacuate (v): To leave or make others leave because of danger.

Quarantine (v/n): A place away and isolated from others.

Precaution (n): A measure taken to prevent danger.

Xenophobia (n): Discrimination against people from a certain country.

Hashtag (n): a hash sign (#) used in social media used to identify messages about specific topics.

Commend (v): To formally praise someone.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Refrain A. Remove
2. Outbreak B. #
3. Lock down C. Country discrimination.
4. Evacuate D. Hold back
5. Quarantine E. Safety
6. Precaution F. Outburst
7. Xenophobia G. Praise
8. Hashtag H. Place away from others.
9. Commend I. Close

True or False?

1.  The WHO is still waiting to declare the coronavirus a global emergency. T / F

2.  Less than 10 countries have been confirmed to have the virus. T / F

3. It is expected more countries will be discovered to have the virus soon. T / F

4.  The virus originated in South America. T / F

5. Most countries have quarantined their citizens who visited Wuhan.  T / F

6. Japan has quarantined all of its citizens who returned from Wuhan. T / F

7. Hong Kong has decided not to extend schools’ winter vacations. T / F

8. Xenophobia has sprouted because of misinformation. T / F

9. Japanese and South Korean people have not been affected by the Chinese xenophobia. T / F

10. China has been praised for its handling of the virus. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. from / a / refrained / The WHO / global / emergency / declaring / had

2. virus / countries / confirmed / now / 18 / The / has / been / in

3. ordered / all residents / of / their homes / in / to / They / Wuhan / remain

4. in / China / the cause / has / of / virus originating / The / been / xenophobia

5. meanwhile / the / has / of / praised / the efforts / Chinese government / WHO / The

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Tourists Foreign Positive
Declared Meanwhile Expectations
Astonishment Misinformation Operations

The World Health Organisation has (1)___________ the coronavirus to be a global emergency. The announcement comes after weeks of the WHO monitoring the spread of the virus. The WHO had refrained from declaring a global emergency earlier in the outbreak due to the fact that the virus hadn’t been confirmed in enough countries. The virus has now been confirmed in 18 countries with (2)_________________ that it will be discovered in more soon.

The virus began in Wuhan, China and caused the Chinese government to lock down the city. They ordered all residents of Wuhan to remain in their homes and have only allowed (3)____________ citizens to leave. Japan, the US, UK and France are some of the countries who have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan with the permission of the Chinese government. Most countries have quarantined all the citizens who have come from Wuhan. There has been controversy in Japan as the Japanese government has not been quarantining everyone who has returned from Wuhan. Three Japanese people returning from Wuhan have tested (4)_____________ for the virus and have been taken to a special medical facility.

Precautions have been taken around the world to try and limit the spread of the virus. In Hong Kong, winter vacation for schools has been extended by two weeks. International companies with offices in China have been closing their (5)______________ and some countries have been testing anyone flying in from China.

The virus originating in China has been the cause of xenophobia in some areas of the world. (6)__________________ on the internet and in the media has caused some people to falsely blame Chinese people and Chinese culture for the spread of the virus. In some cases, Asian people confused to be Chinese have also been targeted. There have been reports in Italy of Chinese (7)_____________ being banned from restaurants and in one case, they were asked not to come to class, along with Japanese and South Korean students. Asian people have been fighting back against the xenophobia, accusing people of not understanding that Asian people are from different countries. In France, the hashtag “I am not a virus” has been trending on Twitter from Chinese people upset over the reactions from uninformed people.

The WHO has (8)_________________ praised the efforts of the Chinese government because of their handling of the virus. Dr Tedros of the WHO commended the “extraordinary measures” taken by the Chinese authorities. He also stated, “Let me be clear, this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China”. Reports from China about the handling of the virus have been met with (9)________________ around the world. The most widely reported of which was the Chinese government’s plan to build a completely new hospital in six days in order to help tackle the virus.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Has anyone in your country been diagnosed with the virus?
5. Are you worried about the Coronavirus?
6. Has your government taken any precautions against the virus?
7. Has your country been affected by the virus?
8. Have any other virus outbreaks occurred in your country in the past?
9. What do you think about how China has handled the situation?
10. Was your country affected by the SARS virus?
11. What would you do if you experienced a lockdown, like in Wuhan?
12. Has your country evacuated citizens from China?
13. Is it a good idea to evacuate citizens?
14. Does the virus make you not want to visit China in the future?
15. What do you think about the xenophobia experienced by some people?
16. Are people overreacting about the virus?
17. What do you think about the Chinese government building a new hospital so quickly?
18. Do you think your country would react any differently than China has?
19. Have you changed anything about your daily life because of this outbreak?
20. Would you be upset if your government sent evacuated people to your city?