IATE Term of the Week: Lockdown

April 24, 2020 10:17 am

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A lockdown is an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area during a threat of danger.
The first known use of the term “lockdown” goes back to 1973. It was a measure taken in prison when all prisoners were locked in their cells to prevent prison riots or unrest from spreading or during an emergency.
But today, and for the first time in history, almost half of the global population is on coronavirus lockdown.

What does lockdown imply?

In most cases lockdowns involve a ban on people going out, apart from travelling to and from work unless this can’t be done from home, buying essential supplies of food and medicine, helping others in need, and getting some brief exercise. All non-essential businesses are closed as are all schools and universities.

  • On 23 January China locked down Wuhan city, home to 11 million people, where Covid-19 is thought to have originated.
  • On 8 March Italy shut down the northern region that was most severely affected by the virus; two days later it extended the controls to the entire country.
  • On March 16, the European Union banned non-essential travel into the region for at least 30 days.
  • As of today, over 100 countries worldwide had instituted either a full or partial lockdown by the end of March 2020, affecting billions of people.

The purpose of this lockdown, explains a new study from the Imperial College London COVID-19 Response Team, is to reduce reproduction – in other words, to reduce the number of people each confirmed case infects. By staying at home and practicing social distancing, the spread of the virus is slowed down.

iate lockdown

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The socio-economic consequences of this global lockdown are not yet known. But one of the few positive effects of the lockdown is that there seems to have been a drop in pollution in some parts of the world. Data from the Sentinel-5P satellite shows that nitrogen dioxide air pollution levels have plummeted across Europe since the pandemic. The canals in Venice cleared up and dolphins swim off the coast, or deer and monkeys entered cities in Japan and Thailand, all the sea turtles reclaimed Brazils’ usually crowded beaches, nature is quick to reclaim where humans have built.

This unprecedented situation has also revealed the solidarity and creativity that people can show. The main challenge for many is simply keeping up their spirits despite the boredom and isolation of being confined at home.

Whether it’s having evening drinks on video phone, chatting to neighbours through open windows, or joining in mass sing-alongs and applause, staying connected with the outside world is key. So it is time to take advantage of this particular situation and finally do the thing you never had the time for. Learn a new language, read books, work out, call your loved ones, and stay home.



Imperial College COVID-19 Response – Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID19 mortality and healthcare demand: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

The Guardian – What coronavirus lockdowns have meant around the world: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/what-a-coronavirus-lockdown-might-mean-for-london

Eva GozlanWritten by Eva Gozlan. She is currently validating her Master’s degree in Translation and International Communication at ISIT School.

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