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Topical Tuesdays from The Week Junior – Coronavirus and Covid-19


The Italian government has placed the whole of Italy in quarantine, as part of the country’s efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease known as Covid-19.

What is Covid-19?
The Covid-19 disease is caused by a new type of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was discovered in humans in Wuhan, China, at the end of last year.

Symptoms include breathing difficulties, a sore throat and a high temperature. If a person has these symptoms, it does not mean they have Covid-19 – there are many types of coronavirus, including one that causes the common cold.

What has the Italian government done?
Italy has banned people from travelling and has asked them to stay at home, banned public gatherings, including sporting events, and closed cinemas and museums.

Why is Italy under lockdown?
On 9 March, the number of people in Italy infected by the coronavirus rose sharply to more than 9,000, and 463 had died.

What about Italian schools?
All schools and universities have been shut in order to stop young people from getting sick, with lessons carried out on the internet.

What about the UK?
On 9 March, the UK Government held an emergency meeting. It said it had a plan to deal with a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus – including closing schools, making people work from home and banning all large gatherings. However, the Government decided it was not yet time to introduce these plans.

This PDF resource includes this article, as well as accompanying activity ideas:

  • Even without the coronavirus, do you think all learning should be done online? It would be cheaper than keeping schools open. Or is it important for children to gather together to learn? Debate as a class.
  • Write a set of instructions, letting people know what they can do to reduce the spread of a disease such as Covid-19. Include things such as hand washing, catching your sneezes and avoiding contact with others.
  • Imagine you live in Italy and have been told not to go to school. Write a letter to an imaginary pen-pal in the UK, telling them what it’s like to have to stay home and how you feel about the whole situation.
  • We are lucky to be living in an age where science helps us to understand so much about what causes diseases, how they are spread and what we can do to protect ourselves from them. This wasn’t always the case. Investigate what people used to believe caused disease and describe some of their more unusual suggestions for cures.

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See the whole range of free Topical Tuesday resources here.