Several countries have moved to restrict travel with Southern Africa after a new Covid-19 variant was discovered. The variant has been called Omicron and The World Health Organization (WHO) have classed it as a variant of concern due to early signs that it may have a higher chance of reinfection.

Roy and Neil discuss this news story and teach you some related vocabulary so you can talk about it too.

Video chapters:
0:00​​​​​​​​​​ – Introduction
0:35 – Story
1:52 – Headline 1: European countries clamp down on Omicron variant
4:50 – Headline 2: China could double down on its zero-Covid approach amid concerns about omicron, analysts say
7:15 – Headline 3: Blessing in disguise: Omicron variant may be ‘very positive’ news for the world if new Covid mutation kills off more lethal Delta coronavirus
10:36 – Language summary

Key words and phrases:
clamp down
act officially to prevent something from happening

  • The government decided to clamp down on benefit fraud after a sharp rise in the number of cases.
  • The manager clamped down on lateness after a number of employees consistently didn’t arrive on time.

double down
do something in a stronger way than before

  • The local council has announced it will double down on illegal parking.
  • The school has doubled down on smoking. Any child with cigarettes will be suspended.

blessing in disguise
something which at first looks bad, but in the end is good

  • Rob eating all the biscuits was a blessing in disguise for my diet.
  • I was annoyed when I missed the bus, but I realised it was a blessing in disguise after finding out it was in an accident!

To download the audio and a transcript and test your understanding, go to our website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/newsreview/unit-21/session-222

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