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The coronavirus, called Covid-19, has affected every corner of the world. It has infiltrated over 170 countries around the world with the number still expected to rise. Currently, more than one-third of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, are under lockdown, with governments forcing them to stay home to stave off the spread of the virus. In Europe, daily life has almost ceased completely. France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and many other European countries are now on total lockdown. People are only allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons such as buying food, exercising alone or if their job is essential. Essential workers vary by country but mostly include healthcare professionals, supermarket workers and some government workers, among others.

As Covid-19 has gripped the world, reactions have varied. Stock markets in the US, Europe and Asia have all crashed dramatically as companies have been forced to close. It remains to be seen what the full economic impact of the coronavirus will be but, already, millions have lost their jobs and businesses have collapsed. In the US, 3.28 million people registered for unemployment benefits in one week, by far the largest single week figure in history. Since records began, the worst week ever was in 1982 with 695,000 people signing up for unemployment. The news caused shock throughout the world economy.

The response from some governments has been excellent. South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and other countries have all been praised for their handling of Covid-19. South Korea was able to significantly slow the spread of the virus without locking down the whole country. Korea has been able to test up to 15,000 people per day. This is in stark contrast to western countries. The US didn’t have the capability to test people for weeks which allowed the virus to spread unchecked in the country. In Europe, the UK was initially only testing people who needed to be hospitalised and warned anyone who had even slight symptoms, to stay home. This is a recurring theme across Europe which has currently been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. However, the WHO has warned that the US will soon be the hardest hit due to the similar lack of testing and spread prevention.

There is concern from various governments that the economic impact of Covid-19 could be worse than the health impact of the virus itself. Donald Trump has repeated this sentiment, leaks from the UK government suggested the same discussions were being held in private and Japan was accused of not fighting the virus in order to try and ensure that the Olympics still take place in 2020. The Olympics have now been delayed to 2021 and these reactions have been strongly criticised by people who have accused some governments of prioritising their economies over the health of their citizens.

As the situation worsens around the world, people are having to adjust to new lifestyles. Services that people took for granted before are now severely limited or have disappeared completely. Amazon and other online retailers have been unable to deliver as fast as people are used to, Netflix and Youtube have decreased the quality of their videos in Europe in order to aid internet congestion and people are facing other unexpected difficulties. One silver lining to this situation is that pollution around the world is at it’s lowest in years, which has led to discussions about whether this situation can help the world adapt to fight the climate crisis in the coming years. Only time will tell how long life must remain altered and it’s uncertain whether life will ever be completely the same again.

Difficult words

Infiltrate (v): To gain access in a secret way.

Lockdown (n/v): To be confined to one place.

Stave (v): Avoid or delay something bad or dangerous.

Cease (v): To stop.

Vary (v): To differ or have variations.

Grip (v): To have a strong effect on something.

Stark (adj): Strongly or severe.

Congestion (n): The state of being crowded.

Silver lining (idiom): A positive aspect of a negative situation.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English:

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Infiltrate A. Severe
2. Lockdown B. Stop
3. Stave C. Quarantine
4. Cease D. Affect
5. Vary E. Positive
6. Grip F. Gain access
7. Stark G. Crowding
8. Congestion H. Avoid
9. Silver Lining I. Be different

True or False?

1. One third of the world’s population is under lockdown.  T / F

2. Essential workers can leave their homes. T / F

3. People cannot leave their homes at all if they are not essential workers. T / F

4. The virus is badly affecting the world economy. T / F

5. More than 3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits. T / F

6. South Korea has been very successful with testing for the virus. T / F

7. Netflix has improved the quality of its video during the pandemic. T / F

8. Korea has been testing less than 5,000 people a day. T / F

9. The US may be the next hardest hit place by the virus. T / F

10. The Olympics will still take place in 2020. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. life / ceased / has / almost / daily / In / completely / Europe,

2. homes / People / their / only / to leave / specific reasons / for / are / allowed

3. world / The / economy / news / the / caused / shock / throughout

4. governments / has / excellent / from / been / some / The / response

5. contrast / is / This / in / stark / western / countries / to

Listening and Vocabulary

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

British English:

American English:

Healthcare Unemployment Western
Unexpected Severely Affected
Criticised Prevention Sentiment

The coronavirus, called Covid-19, has (1)_____________ every corner of the world. It has infiltrated over 170 countries around the world with the number still expected to rise. Currently, more than one-third of the world’s population, 2.5 billion people, are under lockdown, with governments forcing them to stay home to stave off the spread of the virus. In Europe, daily life has almost ceased completely. France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and many other European countries are now on total lockdown. People are only allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons such as buying food, exercising alone or if their job is essential. Essential workers vary by country but mostly include (2)______________ professionals, supermarket workers and some government workers, among others.

As Covid-19 has gripped the world, reactions have varied. Stock markets in the US, Europe and Asia have all crashed dramatically as companies have been forced to close. It remains to be seen what the full economic impact of the coronavirus will be but, already, millions have lost their jobs and businesses have collapsed. In the US, 3.28 million people registered for (3)__________________ benefits in one week, by far the largest single week figure in history. Since records began, the worst week ever was in 1982 with 695,000 people signing up for unemployment. The news caused shock throughout the world economy.

The response from some governments has been excellent. South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and other countries have all been praised for their handling of Covid-19. South Korea was able to significantly slow the spread of the virus without locking down the whole country. Korea has been able to test up to 15,000 people per day. This is in stark contrast to (4)______________ countries. The US didn’t have the capability to test people for weeks which allowed the virus to spread unchecked in the country. In Europe, the UK was initially only testing people who needed to be hospitalised and warned anyone who had even slight symptoms, to stay home. This is a recurring theme across Europe which has currently been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. However, the WHO has warned that the US will soon be the hardest hit due to the similar lack of testing and spread (5)_________________.

There is concern from various governments that the economic impact of Covid-19 could be worse than the health impact of the virus itself. Donald Trump has repeated this (6)_____________, leaks from the UK government suggested the same discussions were being held in private and Japan was accused of not fighting the virus in order to try and ensure that the Olympics still take place in 2020. The Olympics have now been delayed to 2021 and these reactions have been strongly (7)______________ by people who have accused some governments of prioritising their economies over the health of their citizens.

As the situation worsens around the world, people are having to adjust to new lifestyles. Services that people took for granted before are now (8)____________ limited or have disappeared completely. Amazon and other online retailers have been unable to deliver as fast as people are used to, Netflix and Youtube have decreased the quality of their videos in Europe in order to aid internet congestion and people are facing other (9)________________ difficulties. One silver lining to this situation is that pollution around the world is at it’s lowest in years, which has led to discussions about whether this situation can help the world adapt to fight the climate crisis in the coming years. Only time will tell how long life must remain altered and it’s uncertain whether life will ever be completely the same again.

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. Do you know how many people have been infected in your country?
5. Is anywhere in your country locked down?
6. Are you or have you been in quarantine?
7. Have people lost their jobs in your country because of Covid-19?
8. Has your country done anything to protect the economy?
9. Do you believe your country cares more about protecting the economy or the people?
10.  Are any businesses or services closed in your country?
11. Do you think the economy of your country will suffer?
12. Are you happy with how your country’s government has handled the virus?
13. Is everyone in your country following your government’s recommendations?
14. Is your country testing many people?
15. Have any important events been cancelled in your country?
16. What do you think about the Olympics being delayed?
17. How has your life changed since the virus was discovered?
18. Does the idea of staying at home for a long period of time make you uncomfortable?
19. Have any famous people been diagnosed with Covid-19 in your country?
20. Do you know anyone who has been infected?