COVID-19: Talking about coronavirus in English – vocabulary & expressions (2)
So, what does it mean to stock up? When people stock up, they're getting a lot of something to use in the future, alright? Maybe normally they don't buy that much, but now they're buying a little bit more, they're stocking up for the future. That's okay and that's a little bit natural and normal and it's going on everywhere. What's not okay is the next word, to hoard goods. To hoard means to buy much, much more than you need and that is not looked at in a positive way, because if you hoard food or groceries or toilet paper, then you have more than you need, but maybe other people don't have anything. Okay? So, stocking up is okay, hoarding is usually looked at in a more negative way. What's also happening is that a lot of non-essential businesses are being shut. To shut a business means what? To close it. Just like you shut the door, you can close the door, you can shut a lot of non-essential businesses. What does that mean? An essential business is something that's absolutely necessary, okay? So, right now, supermarkets are still open, many gas stations are open, okay? Because they're considered essential and necessary, otherwise where would you go to buy your food, okay? But non-essential means what is not absolutely necessary. So, many non-essential businesses are being shut. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and so on. Next, another verb, to cancel. Lots of things are being cancelled right now. Schools, schools are cancelled, universities are cancelled, conferences are cancelled, all kinds of things are being cancelled. So, what does it means to cancel something, is to decide that something is not going to happen. It's cancelled, alright? The other word is to postpone. Sometimes, something is not cancelled, but it's postponed. So, to postpone something means to delay something, to plan to have it at a later date. For example, just this morning, I heard that the Olympics have currently been postponed, alright? So, they're not cancelled, but they are postponed or delayed until later. Alright. Also, please remember that some of the things that I'm telling you are true today. Maybe they're not going to be true tomorrow, but on the day when I'm doing this lesson for you, it's true. It may change just like so much is changing, alright? Another verb which you can use and which you will hear is to control, to control the spread of the virus. So, to control the spread of the virus means what? To limit, to limit the spread, okay? Make it as little as possible. Another very simple - sorry, similar word but a little more advanced and formal is to contain the transmission. So, if I say to control the spread or to contain the transmission, it really means the same thing, it's just fancier English. To contain in this case means to control or limit the spread, the transmission, of the virus, alright? Another verb which you can use is to develop symptoms. To develop means to start to have symptoms. And what are symptoms, remember? We said symptoms are a sign, physical or mental sign of an illness. So, what happens when someone develops serious symptoms? Usually, they test. To test the patient, or to test people, and that means simply to check if they have COVID-19, alright? And one of the reasons we are asked to stay at home as much as possible is to protect the vulnerable. So again, you understand all these words, okay, in your own language, because I'm sure you're getting the same news. All you're doing now is you're matching up the words you've been hearing in your language, maybe, to the words, the same ideas in English, okay? So, to protect the vulnerable means to keep safe people who are older, who are unwell or ill, or who are just weak, they're not as healthy. Vulnerable refers to this group of people, alright? So, let's move on from there to a few more verbs. So, you might hear people when they're speaking casually saying that I'm going to hunker down at home. What does that mean, to hunker down? To hunker down, it kind of means to stay in a safe place for some time until something is over, or danger passes. That's how they're using it right now, okay? Well, I'm not going to go out. The health authorities are saying we should go home, we should stay at home, so I'm just going to hunker down and stay here for a long time or for some time until this is all over, okay? Why? They're asking us to do this to take care of our own health and also to protect the vulnerable and other people. Another verb which we're hearing a lot of today is to livestream. To livestream a press conference. So, what does it mean to livestream? This is a general word, it's not just connected to the coronavirus, right? So, to livestream means to show live on the internet through video and audio, something that's happening somewhere, right? Maybe somebody's giving a press conference, the health authorities are speaking. The media is there, the cameras are there, and they're broadcasting it to you live so you can watch it as it is happening. And now, this is an expression that a lot of the health experts use. They say to flatten the curve, and the idea here is that they're trying to prevent a lot of people from getting sick at the same time, and to try and spread it out so that, instead of, for example, 100 people getting sick at one time and then the hospitals are very busy, having, let's say, ten people getting sick over many days so that the hospitals are not as busy. So, the expression, to flatten the curve, refers to the graph that they show that if you're showing how many people are sick or ill at a particular time, the graph might look like this, and this is a curve. So, if they want to flatten the curve, right, they want it to go down like this so that they can extend the time when people get sick and have more resources and hospitals and doctors and medicines and test kits available for more people. So, you might hear very often this expression, to flatten the curve, alright? Let's move on, okay? I know, so much vocabulary, right? But also, so much opportunity to learn this specific vocabulary which will be used in this context but also in other situations. So, let's look at some adjectives now that are being used very often. Contagious. So, they may say the virus, the COVID virus, is contagious. This just means that it can pass easily or pass to others, alright? It's contagious, it can pass on to others, other people can get it. Another adjective, confirmed. Confirmed means yes, for sure, for certain. For example, she tested positive, it is a confirmed case. That means they don't have any doubt, they're saying yes, it's right, it's confirmed, it's true, it's a confirmed case. Alright? Next, we have a kind of pair of words. One is symptomatic, the other one is asymptomatic. So, this comes from the word which we learned in the beginning, right? Symptom, symptom is what? Remember? A sign of an illness, physical or mental. So, if you're - if someone, not you, if someone is symptomatic, it means they're showing some of the signs of the illness, okay? People are - people who show signs of illness are symptomatic, but people who don't show any signs of the illness are asymptomatic. That means they are not showing any signs of the illness. Alright. Another pair of words that are often used are mandatory and voluntary. For example, it's mandatory for him to be in isolation. So, mandatory here means he has to be, he has no choice, okay? He has to do it, he must do it, it's mandatory, alright? The other word is voluntary. When something is voluntary, you can choose, you can decide whether to do it or not, okay? For example, and again, this might not be true everywhere, it is voluntary to work from home, alright? In some cases, remember, right now, depending on your city, your country, it might not be voluntary, but in some places, it might be voluntary to work from home, that means you decide. Another word is fatal. So, if something is fatal, it means people can die from that. For example, COVID-19 can be fatal. It can kill people. They can die, alright? That's what the word fatal means. The noun of that is fatality. Another word we're hearing a lot at this time is unprecedented, and this means, well first, let me give you a sentence with it, maybe you'll understand by yourself. All these events are unprecedented in my lifetime. So, what it means is that they have never happened before in my life. Alright? When something is unprecedented, it has never happened before, okay? Alright. So, let's move from there now to some of the recommendations and suggestions that we're hearing from the health authorities in different parts of the world to help us during this time. We're being asked to maintain social distancing. Now, that has a lot of different meanings and I will go into it very soon, but it means to do many things or take various steps to basically stay away from other people, alright? We'll look at that in a second. We're being asked to avoid contact with people who are sick or unwell. To avoid means to try not to do something, right? So, try not to have contact with people who are unwell. Stay away from people who are not well. Of course, we all know we're supposed to do what with our hands? You know, wash our hands frequently with soap and water. Frequently means often, okay, not just a few times, many times, wash our hands with soap. And, if you don't have soap and you're outside, we're being asked to do what? Use something called hand sanitizer, it's a special liquid you can use to clean your hands, alright? Next, we're talking about - we're also being told to avoid touching our face or mouth or nose or eyes, to prevent ourselves from getting sick, alright? Trying not to do something. Okay. Another recommendation, we're being told again, we talked a little bit about this, to cough or sneeze into a tissue, right, tissue paper, we can cough or, if we don't have a tissue paper close to use, we can cough or sneeze into the bend of our elbow. Also, we are told, do not visit vulnerable people. You know now vulnerable people are the elderly, elderly is a nice way of saying old people, okay? The elderly, people who are unwell or weak, alright? So, those people we want to avoid visiting because it's easier for them to become sick than healthier people, okay? And we're being told that we should, as much as possible, work from our home. Alright. So, I told you I would talk a little bit more about the social distancing, so let's do that. So, what does that social distancing? Again, I'm sure you know in your own language. Let's try to put an English take on it. So, it means do not get close to other people. We're being asked to stay at least two meters or six feet away from other people, as much as possible. Don't touch other people, don't visit other people, don't invite a lot of people to your house or, really, anybody to your house, and don't go out socially, okay, don't go to restaurants, don't go to clubs, don't go to crowded places. In any case, in many places, all of these places are currently closed, so you don't really have the options, but sometimes people are still going out to beaches and parks and if there are too many people there, then that is not a good thing according to the health authorities.