The holiday season this year has been complicated once again by Covid-19, especially thanks to a new variant called Omicron – which will be today’s topic. The variant has been especially contagious, sending many workers to their homes, causing quite a few logistical problems, especially in the travel industry. Before we look at the details, let’s look first at some useful vocabulary.
- Surge: a sudden powerful forward or upward movement
- Variant: a version of something that differs from a standard.
- Disrupt: to interrupt / to cause a disturbance or problem.
- Flight crews: the workers responsible for the operation of an aircraft during flight.
- Contagious: able to be passed from one individual to another through contact
- Staff shortage: not enough workers to do the job properly
- Complacent: to lose the feeling that there is a risk
Well, currently, the surge of COVID-19 cases and especially the rapidly spreading omicron variant is disrupting travel, entertainment, and sports in many countries.
Shortages of flight crews caused many domestic and international flights to be canceled last weekend. This is a bad time of the year to have sick employees, since the end of December is a busy time for airports and airlines as millions of people fly all over the world to visit friends and family over the holidays.
The fast-moving omicron surge is also affecting the cruise industry. Media reported that at least four cruise liners were recently turned away from ports, or they were allowed to dock, but the passengers were not allowed to get off the ship.
Sporting events have also been canceled, really for two reasons. In the first place, players have been getting sick, and in the second place, governments have tightened restrictions regarding large public events.
The good news is that even though COVID-19 cases will continue to rise, the omicron variant doesn’t seem to be as severe as earlier cases. But, health authorities are still warning that people shouldn’t be complacent, because the overall rise could still overwhelm hospitals that are having their own staffing shortages.
So, by the way, you heard how I pronounced the name of the new variant: aa·muh·kraan. You might also hear it pronounced OH-mee-kraan. If you go back to the Greek origin of the word, the textbook way to pronounce it is OH-my-kraan. It doesn’t really matter. I chose aa·muh·kraan because that seems to be the most common way it is being pronounced.
So, my friends, please do be especially careful over the next few weeks as we see how the omicron variant spreads. We still need to think in the medium term. We need to keep ourselves healthy and help others stay healthy, too. Covid isn’t as short-term as we hoped at the beginning of the outbreak.
The vocabulary you can use to discuss Covid’s effect on the economy is more useful now than ever. Continue building on your vocabulary with our lesson on The Hybrid Workplace. Also, please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or suggestions about the English for Economists podcast here.