The Coronavirus: What We Need to Know

“Wuhan Coronavirus: A respiratory virus has spread from China to at least a dozen other countries, including the U.S. Here’s what you need to know.” R. C. Rabin, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Travelers at a train station in Yichang, China, about 200 miles from Wuhan. Credit- CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press

 

Excerpt: What Is the Coronavirus? Symptoms, Treatment and Risks By Roni C. Rabin the New York Times

“An international outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000, according to the Chinese health authorities. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, apparently at a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals.

A woman checks her son’s forehead in Wuhan, China, on January 27, 2020:The Atlantic

Now the virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries, including Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and the United States. Investigators in still other nations, and in several American states, are evaluating possible cases…Schools have been closed in affected regions. Major attractions, festivals and movie theaters have been closed down, and sales of tourist packages from China to other countries have been halted. Federal health officials are telling Americans not to visit the Wuhan area, and to avoid traveling to any part of China unless necessary. Some airlines are cutting back on flights to China because of low demand.

Spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in China- CNN

Five cases have been confirmed in the United States: one in Washington State; one in Chicago; one in Arizona; and two in California. All patients had recently traveled to China. More than 100 other patients are being tested.

But much is still unknown about the newly identified virus, including how easily it is transmitted and how often it causes severe disease that can lead to death…Here’s what we have learned so far about the virus and the outbreak.

What is a coronavirus?

model of a coronavirus -Credit NativeAntigen

Coronaviruses are named for the spikes that protrude from their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona. They can infect both animals and people, and can cause illnesses of the respiratory tract, ranging from the common cold to dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which sickened thousands of people around the world — and killed nearly 800 — during an outbreak in 2003.

How dangerous is it?

police officer takes the temperature of a driver at a checkpoint on a street on the outskirts of Wuhan on January 27, 2020. :The Atlantic

Health officials around the world are alarmed, but it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus. On Thursday, the World Health Organization declined to declare the outbreak a global health emergency…’When we get a new infectious disease, we learn about the most severe cases first, the top of the pyramid as it were,’ said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center…By comparison, roughly 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu each year in the United States, and about 35,000 people die. But while some scientists say the new virus appears to be less severe than other coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, it is not clear whether the Chinese authorities have been fully transparent about the number of infections and deaths, or even whether these figures are being carefully tracked.

How is it transmitted?

Photo- Forbes

The Wuhan coronavirus is most likely transmitted through coughing and sneezing, as is the case with influenza and other respiratory viruses, Dr. Vaishampayan said…The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed 198 confirmed cases in Wuhan. Researchers found that 22 percent had direct exposure to the meat market, and 32 percent had contact with people who had a fever or respiratory disease. But roughly half had neither been to the market nor had contact with anyone who was sick… Researchers at Imperial College London estimated that in the current outbreak, each infected person has passed the virus to 2.6 other people, on average.

What treatment is available?

People wearing face masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus wait inside the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital on January 25, 2020. The Atlantic

The main treatment is supportive care, including making sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and using a ventilator to push air into the lungs if necessary, Dr. Vaishampayan said. Patients should rest and drink plenty of fluids ‘while the immune system does its job and heals itself,’ she said.

No drugs have been approved for any coronavirus diseases, including the Wuhan coronavirus, though an antiviral medication called remdesivir appears to be effective in animals… Chinese officials are experimenting with at least one other H.I.V. drug to treat the infection.

What is the source of the outbreak?

Animals are the most likely primary source of the outbreak, but it is still not clear which animals. Past outbreaks of similar illnesses, including SARS, also are believed to have emerged from live animal markets.

But though the first patients sickened by the Wuhan coronavirus were thought to have contracted the disease at the market, the illness can also be transmitted from person to person.

What are the health authorities doing to contain the virus?

The Chinese authorities have closed off transportation links from and within Wuhan and other affected cities, encircling roughly 50 million people.

Large public gatherings and performances were banned in Wuhan, and the government announced that all residents were required to wear masks in public to help prevent the disease from spreading.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Source- Center for Disease Control and Prevention:USA Today

Symptoms include fever, severe cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Milder cases may resemble the flu or a bad cold, making detection difficult. The incubation period — the time from exposure to the onset of symptoms — is believed to be about two weeks.

I’m traveling to China. What can I do to protect myself?

A fully protected man checks out at the self-help machine of a supermarket in Wuhan on January 25, 2020. The Atlantic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned against all nonessential travel to China…Dr. Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said travelers should practice ‘good hand hygiene’ — washing hands frequently and avoiding touching their faces — and maintain a distance from anyone who is coughing and sneezing. Travelers should monitor their health upon their return. If a cough or fever develops, call health providers before going in, so they can prepare and put protective measures in place.

Should I wear a mask?

People wearing masks in China. Londonpost

Wearing a surgical mask may somewhat protect you from infection in a crowd if there is an outbreak, but, generally, surgical masks are not close fitting enough to filter all the air you are breathing in.

Roads remain empty in Wuhan on January 27, 2020.

At the moment, the risk of infection with the new coronavirus in the United States — where there are only five confirmed cases so far — ‘is way too low to start wearing a face mask,’ Dr. Rabinowitz said. The risk is very, very low to the general public.”

RELATED: Fears of coronavirus fuel anti-Chinese racism. By Deanna Pan, Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. An international outbreak of respiratory illness has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000.
  2. Now the virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries.
  3. Investigators in still other nations, and in several American states, are evaluating possible cases.
  4. Five cases have been confirmed in the United States.
  5. One of the key questions is whether it can be transmitted by patients who have not yet shown any symptoms of illness themselves.
  6. Health officials around the world are alarmed, but it is hard to accurately assess the lethality of a new virus.
  7. When we get a new infectious disease, we learn about the most severe cases first.
  8. Some scientists say the new virus appears to be less severe than other coronaviruses.
  9. A close examination of one family, suggested that the virus was passed from one ill relative to six others.
  10. Epidemics caused by other members of the viral family, SARS and MERS, have had high death rates.

Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

Some Prepositions: at,  as, across, around,  by, during,  for, from, in, into,  of, on,  to, over,  off, through, up,  with, since,

An international outbreak___respiratory illness caused___ a novel coronavirus has killed ___least 132 people.

The outbreak began___ Wuhan, China, apparently ___a market selling live poultry, seafood and wild animals.

Investigators ___still other nations, and___ several American states, are evaluating possible cases.

Federal health officials are telling Americans not___visit the Wuhan area, and ___avoid traveling ___any part___China unless necessary.

Coronaviruses are named ___the spikes that protrude___ their membranes, which resemble the sun’s corona.

 

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. The outbreak began in Japan
  2. The coronavirus has killed at least 132 people and sickened about 6,000 so far.
  3. It appears that the outbreak started in a large crowed village.
  4. The virus has turned up in more than a dozen other countries, including Japan, South Korea, France, Australia and the United States.
  5. Federal health officials are telling Americans not to visit the Wuhan area, but it’s ok to visit other parts of China.
  6. Ten cases have been confirmed in the United States: one in Washington State; one in Chicago; one in Arizona; and two in California.
  7. The virus can only infect people.
  8. There are less severely infected people, and people who are infected who don’t get sick at all.
  9. The Wuhan coronavirus is most likely transmitted through coughing and sneezing.
  10. The main treatment is making sure the patient is getting enough oxygen, and using a ventilator to push air into the lungs if necessary.

III. Post Reading Activities

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Topic organizer. By Enchanted Learning

 

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the subjects mentioned.

  1. Before reading this article how much did you know about the coronavirus?
  2. Why do you think people are beginning to panic?
  3. According to the article, where exactly in Wuhan China did the coronavirus start?
  4. The article mentions an incident involving a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, in 2015, where one man with MERS transmitted it to 82 patients. Why is this a major concern today with the coronavirus?
  5. How is the coronavirus similar and different from other epidemics like SARS and MERS?
  6. How is the coronavirus transmitted?
  7. What precautions can people take to avoid getting the virus?
  8. Can you think of any additional ways people might protect themselves from contacting the virus?
  9. So far is there any treatment that can cure the virus?
  10. According to doctors, what are patients advised to do if they contact the virus?
  11. Do you think people in the U.S. and other countries  will act negatively towards  Chinese students or people from China? Why or why not?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY