With just about everyone now talking about the SARS-CoV-2 (Virus type), COVID 19 (The disease), more commonly known to all; of us as The coronavirus. It was only a matter of time before we mention it in our podcasts. So today we discuss the typical English vocabulary used when talking about COVID-19. We also describe what stage the UK is in preparing for the disease.
The UK is a little behind many countries in terms of the spread of the disease. So we should have had more time to prepare for the inevitable increase in infections. But as usual, the people responsible for protecting us from this event did not use the extra time to prepare. So we are hearing about a “plan” that already seems out of date, and lots of discussions are taking place about how things will happen.
What we know is, just like in China and Italy and other countries we see on the news, the UK intends to “self isolate” (ask people who may have COVID-19, to stay at home) so they can presumably infect their family members and neighbours.
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If that happens, then earning money to pay the bills will become a real problem for many people in the UK. 10% of the UK’s adults have no savings, so how they will survive being away from work for a month or more is unknown.
For all the problems with being at home, and all the worries you might have, it may well be good advice to focus on something you might enjoy. Maybe learning to speak English?
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Well, we’re all watching the news at the moment, mainly about coronavirus or to give it its proper name, COVID-19. I hope you’re not suffering wherever you are – and that you’re making some preparations too. Right now, in the UK, we’re carrying on pretty much as normal, but it feels as though people are talking about little else and the news is almost completely about coronavirus. It also feels likely that in the next few weeks, we’ll be staying home more, making some adjustments to our lives because of the virus. And the number of cases is likely to increase still further.
One of the steps that the government may take is to close schools in affected areas. If that happens, parents will need to stay home to look after their children – and therefore they’ll be taking time off work, or if possible, working from home. Staying away from large gatherings of people, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds seems to be the main advice. Also sleeping well and generally looking after yourself, so that you’re able to fight the virus off, if you catch it.
The UK government are currently saying ‘Don’t stockpile. There’s no need to’. What does the verb ‘to stockpile’ mean? Well, stockpile is spelt S-T-O-C-K-P-I-L-E and it means to buy more of something than you normally would – in case there’s a shortage and you can’t get any more. So people typically are stockpiling items like soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizer – that’s the stuff you squirt onto your hands to clean them. And the best kind for killing coronavirus is hand sanitizer with alcohol in it. If it’s just anti-bacterial, it’s no good – because coronavirus is a virus, not a bacteria. People also stockpile tins and dried pasta and rice – because they’re items that last a fair while, if you need them to. So the UK government are saying ‘Don’t stockpile’, because these items will continue to be available. But looking at the shelves in our supermarkets, you can tell that people have been buying more than usual of these items.
It feels a bit as though we’re preparing for a storm – the coronavirus is going to come. Well, it’s here already, but it might come in the form of you catching it – we don’t know yet what’s going to happen really. But it seems the reasonable likelihood that we’re going to be working from home, and minimizing the amount that we go out.
I’ve got three days up in London this week – so I’ll be doing a lot of hand washing I think!! It’s difficult in a big city like London, because you are necessarily out and about with a lot of other people. You’re on the tube, you’re breathing the same air – and if it’s busy on the tube, the London underground I mean, you’re also in close proximity with people. ‘In close proximity’ means you’re right next to them, you have no choice but to stand close. You also have quite a high likelihood of picking up the virus on your hands, so hand washing is really important. Several of the buildings where I work in London have been emptied out the previous week, ‘for deep cleaning’ because people have tested postive for coronavirus. ‘A deep clean’ means an extra careful clean, an extra big clean, an attempt to get rid of the virus in a building. Unless your building is set up like a hospital though, this is really difficult. You can’t exactly clean the carpet, for instance.
One of the problems with coronavirus is that it’s highly communicable – that means it travels very quickly from one person to another. And people seem to have the virus for a while before they know that they’re ill, before they develop symptoms. Symptoms, S-Y-M-P-T-O-M-S are the signs that you are ill, evidence that you might be ill. You might talk about there being ‘symptoms’ of illness, ‘symptoms’ that show someone’s ill – or it could be ‘symptoms’ of a problem, so it might be used in a different context. So because people with coronavirus don’t show symptoms straight away, but are still infectious – it passes [around] quite quickly. The main symptoms, as I’ve discussed before, are a cough – C-O-U-G-H and a temperature – T-E-M-P-E-R-A-T-U-R-E. That means the measurement, usually in degrees celsius of how warm or cold you are. And when we say in English that someone ‘has a temperature’ this means a raised temperature, it’s higher than normal.
A photograph of a man with his eyes closed learning against an office window in London.
So there are cases – and a ‘case’, C-A-S-E in this context, means a person who’s ill with coronavirus – there are cases all across the UK already – with the most, as you would expect, in London. As I’m looking at the statistics, Wales seems like a good place to be, with only a very small number of cases so far. It’s quite sobering how quickly this spreads – international air travel ensures that very quickly, the virus is all around the world.
It seems sensible to make some preparations and be ready in case you’re told that your child’s school is closing or that your place of work is closing and you have to work from home. I’ve spent part of my time getting used to an online app which allows you to have meetings with people remotely so that I can continue to work. ‘Remotely’ means you’re in your house – they’re in their house and I’m in mine. So we might talk in English about ‘remote working’ – R-E-M-O-T-E. And generally that means working from home, but connected by your computer or laptop. The word ‘remote’ means ‘far away’. It also seems sensible to get some things to do, while you’re at home, in case we’re holed up – some good books perhaps, games for your children, and making sure that you’re stocked up with whatever you need to pursue your hobbies and interests. Seems like a good idea in the circumstances.
Perhaps one of the major worries here, besides getting ill, is the economic effect. It’s all likely to have a big effect on business – it is already. And the worry is that the virus will hit harder in countries where health care systems are not as good. Let’s hope not. One big positive about the virus though – it doesn’t seem to affect children and young people very much. They might get the virus, but they hardly notice they’ve got it, it’s such a mild illness. And they’ll recover without too much effect. ‘To recover’, R-E-C-O-V-E-R means to get better. So let’s hope there will be a lot of recovering in the next few weeks.
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So I hope first of all that you’re well and that you stay well. I also hope that your area isn’t too badly affected by coronavirus, but that if it is, you’re warm and safe at home, with something interesting to do, to pass the time until the coronavirus outbreak is over.
I hope this is some helpful vocabulary learning, with English transcript of course on our website at adeptenglish.com – so help to learn English today with some very current health related vocabulary.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.