Lesson Of The Day: ‘What Is The Coronavirus? Symptoms, Treatment And Risks


Lesson Of The Day: ‘What Is The Coronavirus? Symptoms, Treatment And Risks

4 years ago

~3.2 mins read
In this lesson, students will learn about the coronavirus using Times photographs, graphs and articles.


Travelers at a train station in Yichang, China, about 200 miles from Wuhan. The Lunar New Year, which began on Saturday, is the region’s busiest travel season. Credit...CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press
By Natalie Proulx and Nicole Daniels
Jan. 28, 2020, 4:00 a.m. ET
Find all our Lessons of the Day here.

Lesson Overview
Featured Article: “What Is the Coronavirus? Symptoms, Treatment and Risks” by Roni Caryn Rabin.

Have you heard anything about the coronavirus? Are people in your school or community concerned about contracting it?

The coronavirus is a respiratory virus named for the spikes that protrude from its membrane, which resemble the sun’s corona. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in a live seafood, poultry and wild animal market, but it has now appeared in 11 other countries, including the United States. According to Chinese health authorities, the coronavirus has killed at least 56 people and sickened at least 2,000.

In this lesson, students will learn more about the virus and how people are reacting to it, both in Asia and in the United States.

Warm Up
In the article, “China’s Battle With a Deadly Coronavirus, in Photos,” photographers document the response to the outbreak in China. Look closely at the photograph below and answer the following questions from our partners at Visual Thinking Strategies:

What is going on in this picture?
What do you see that makes you say that?

Now, using those same close observation skills, look through all of the photographs in the article. What observations can you make and what conclusions can you draw?

What story does the series of photographs tell?
Are you able to get a sense of how the virus is transmitted? What do you notice people doing to contain the virus?
Did you notice that the outbreak happened at the time of the Lunar New Year? What do you notice about how the outbreak affected celebrations?
What other questions do you still have?
As you read the featured article, keep these images in mind and see what more information you are able to gather.

Questions for Writing and Discussion
Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. In your own words, why has there been so much panic and fear in response to the coronavirus?

2. Why hasn’t the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency? How did some of the physicians quoted in the article explain and support the W.H.O.’s decision?

3. How were scientists able to identify how the virus is transmitted? What conclusions have the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention been able to reach through its observation and study?

4. How is the coronavirus similar and different from other epidemics like SARS and MERS? How does it compare with annual influenza outbreaks? What do these comparisons tell us about how dangerous this new virus is?

5. How did the outbreak initially happen, and why has it been so difficult to contain?

6. What can people do to protect themselves? What role are United States health officials taking to prevent an outbreak?

Going Further
You started this lesson by looking at photographs to understand the epidemic. Now that you have read more information about what is happening, take some time to analyze one or two graphs or maps from this article and answer the following questions from our What’s Going On in This Graph? feature:

What do you notice? If you make a claim, tell us what you noticed that supports your claim.
What do you wonder? What are you curious about that comes from what you noticed in the graph?
What’s going on in this graph? Write a catchy headline that captures the graph’s main idea..

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