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  • Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Georgina.

  • I've really had enough of this coronavirus, Georgina!

  • People getting sick, losing their jobs and to top it off,

  • the pubs in some places are closed!

  • I know it's bad, Neil, but compared to historical pandemics

  • like the Spanish flu and economic crises like the Great Depression,

  • coronavirus isn't actually so bad.

  • You've got to look at the bigger picture

  • the long-term, overall view of a complex situation.

  • Hmm, somehow that's not very comforting, Georgina! But tell me more

  • Well, we've heard lots from politicians and scientists

  • about the spread of coronavirus but a historian's view

  • might give us a fresh look at the bigger picture

  • and maybe a more hopeful point of view.

  • So in this programme we'll be hearing from historian, Peter Frankopan,

  • author of bestselling book, The Silk Roads.

  • Ah, the title of that book, The Silk Roads, reminds me of my

  • quiz question, Georgina. Are you ready to have a go?

  • I'll try, Neil, but the only thing I know about the Silk Roads

  • is that they were the ancient routes along which people travelled the Earth.

  • Very good, Georgina! Not just people but also ideas, religions,

  • languages and diseases travelled from place to place

  • along these ancient roads.

  • But where exactly did the Silk Roads run?

  • That's my quiz question. Was it: a) From South America to Europe?,

  • b) From Africa to Asia?, or, c) From Asia to Europe?

  • Well, since this current pandemic came from Wuhan,

  • I'll say, c) from Asia to Europe.

  • OK, Georgina, we'll find out later if that's right.

  • What's certain is that disease passing from place to place and

  • from animals to humans, is nothing new.

  • Listen to historian, Peter Frankopan, being interviewed

  • for the BBC programme, HARDTalk.

  • See if you can hear the reason he gives for how diseases are spread.

  • Well, it's a fairly predictable thing a historian would say but change

  • and widespread diseases are nothing new.

  • Our ancestors all lived through big pandemics, some of them which

  • were much more lethal than coronavirus

  • And one of the products of living together in high-density populations,

  • going back as far as historical records go, is you find there are transitions of

  • disease from animals to human beings and they inflict damage.

  • And that damage typically you measure in mortality rates

  • but then the economic and social consequences of disease.

  • There's a lot of examples in history to learn from.

  • Compared to coronavirus, other big pandemics in history

  • have been much more lethaldangerous enough to cause death.

  • One reason Peter gives for this is the high-density of populations,

  • meaning people living together in buildings very close to one another.

  • In olden days this included living together with animals,

  • making the transmission of disease to humans much easier.

  • Right, Georgina, like the flea-infested rats which spread the plague

  • across Europe in the Middle Ages.

  • But times change and today most people live in very different ways

  • from people living centuries ago.

  • So how can we explain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020?

  • And why have some countries been able to deal with it so much

  • better than others.

  • Here's Peter Frankopan again, talking on the BBC's HARDTalk.

  • Listen and see if you can you spot his answer.

  • Well, your geographical position in the world mattersif you're

  • if you're geographically peripheral like Scandinavia or New Zealand,

  • then you have a different dose, a different level of connectivity

  • with the rest of the world.

  • If you're a country like the UK which is the

  • centre of all global flight routes, then the incidence of people going backwards and

  • forwards, in and out of your country - you're going to

  • spread and catch much quicker.

  • The scorecard is very mixed and there've been some

  • democratic systems that have been extremely resilient and

  • robust at anticipating it and some that have got it wrong.

  • According to Peter, countries which are geographically peripheral

  • at the periphery or edge of things, instead of at the centre, are less at risk.

  • The UK, on the other hand, is at the centre of global flight routes

  • the connecting flight paths used by airplanes.

  • Visiting air passengers who spread the disease are one of the reasons

  • behind Britain's dose of coronavirus.

  • Here, dose is used as an informal way of saying an unpleasant experience.

  • So from a historical viewpoint, this current pandemic

  • doesn't seem so badfar fewer people have died than in

  • previous pandemics and with the arrival of a vaccine,

  • the end is almost in sight.

  • Hmm, I guess so, Georgina, but for now at least the pubs are

  • still closed in some places!

  • Anyway, it was interesting to hear how diseases have been

  • spreading since ancient times.

  • On routes like the Silk Roads, you mean?

  • So what was the answer to your quiz question, Neil? Was I right?

  • You said the ancient Silk Roads ran, c) from Asia to Europe

  • which wascorrect!

  • They ran from Japan and the Far East through Asia and the Middle East,

  • bringing trade and spices as well as new ideas and languages to Europe.

  • Sounds like another example of looking at the bigger picture -

  • the long-term, overall view of a complex situation.

  • Let's recap the other vocabulary too.

  • Diseases can be lethalextremely dangerous, even causing death.

  • A high-density population is a population living very closely together.

  • Peripheral countries may be less at risk from pandemics because

  • they are at the periphery or edge of events, instead of at the centre.

  • So somewhere with fewer flight routes

  • the connecting pathways followed by airplanes,

  • might get a less serious doseor unpleasant experience, of coronavirus.

  • Well, I hope this experience hasn't been too unpleasant

  • and you get a chance to use some of this vocabulary

  • chatting to your friends about trending stories in the news.

  • And if you like topical discussions and want to learn how to use the

  • vocabulary found in headlines, why not check out our News Review podcast?

  • Remember to join us again soon at 6 Minute English.

  • And to download our free app from your usual app store

  • so you can follow BBC Learning English

  • we're all over social media as well.

  • Goodbye for now!

  • Bye!

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

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B1 georgina silk centre asia europe peripheral

Coronavirus vs other pandemics - 6 Minute English

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/24
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