Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

After we featured an article on the impact of Coronavirus in Asia from trainees and contacts a few weeks ago, we are still getting updates from around the world. Here are some of the latest stories. We will add to them as more come in...

Colleen, France: 
The government is preparing for phase 3 soon, which means closing of public transport, schools and certain big events nationwide, to prevent the continued spread of the virus. We possibly could be in the same position as Italy stands, at this point.

The 'bises' on either cheek or thrice 'bises' here in France are not encouraged any more, so people are also doing the 'elbow' dance, 'foot' dance or 'Irish River Dancing' for greeting (French humour).

Thank goodness my partner and I can work at home on-line and I can also complete my TESOL course soon. I'm really geared and enthusiastic to teach kids on line and businesses once I complete the course.

David, Hong Kong:
As for teaching industry itself, that depends on the teaching job. For example, I am a contract teacher, so I am still getting paid my normal wages. On the other hand, some of my mates work at language centres or as private tutors so their wages have changed. Many parents are reluctant to send their kids to learning centres out of fear they can catch the virus en route to the centre or while interacting with others at the centre. They are seeing pay cuts as contact hours have decreased. Some smaller mom and pop ran tutorial centres are closing down because of lack of income to pay the rent/bills. Others are still doing alright because schools are still sending homework and parents don’t have time/knowledge to help their kids do the they risk sending them to the learning centres anyways. For the private tutors, the ones that usually give one on one tuition in cafes or inside the homes of local students, business is so-so. Some have altered to teach online via video conferencing. Some are making less because parents don’t want to risk the tutor bringing in the virus from outside of the home. Oddly enough, some are making more money because parents want their children to have more practice since they are missing contact time with teachers at school (and these tutors are charging more due to the risk of contamination during travelling to and from the private homes). Lastly, many expat families have already or are considering leaving the city and enrolling their children in schools back in their homes countries. The protest in the second half of last year and the virus in the first quarter of this year have made many of them rethink about their quality of life vs the paycheque here.

Angelo and Silvia, Madrid, Spain:
After the number of cases almost doubled in 24 hours, the situation in Madrid in particular has changed dramatically over the last few days:  schools are closed, initially for a 15 day period, and when Louisa Walsh Skyped her business English students Angelo and Silvia this week who are located in the Madrid area, they were at home – told to work from there  by their international employer.
However, many Spanish employees are still in the office and as one of the Madrid trainees pointed out, it is the grandparents, the most at-risk age group, who are looking after the kids while they are off and their parents are at work.

Lea Hook is an online English teacher and has been asking his students around the world to comment on the situation with them. Here is what his students have said:

Davide, Milan, Italy:
Davide's attitude has changed hugely since last week;  he was saying that no virus is going to spoil his travel plans or daily life. This week he said he was actually worried -  sent home from work yesterday and told not to go in until the 17th March, his wife is a school teacher and she has told to stay at home for three weeks. 

His wife is sending her students homework to do via the school portal and Davide will send emails and take calls from home. 

Their health service is seriously under pressure with patients in intensive care and hospital staff are becoming infected. 

He can only go out for three reasons - an emergency, to work or to pick up food and supplies, they need a full health certificate from a doctor if they need to do anything else. 

I asked him how will he cope and he said they have enough supplies, plenty of movies to watch and to keep an eye on the news. The supermarkets are working hard to keep up with the supply-demand and some supermarkets are offering a delivery so they don't have to go out and make contact with anyone. 

What concerned him the most today is that a huge number of the under '50s are in intensive care, where it was just the over 80's before.  

Ella, Hong Kong:
It seems that things have got a bit better in HK over the past week, she has returned to work and she said things are not as severe as they were a few weeks ago. Some of her colleagues have returned to work but some still insist on staying at home and they have to take training classes online from their homes. 

She said about two weeks ago that people were paying big money for masks as they were rare, she said shopping centres, malls and restaurants were closed and struggling to have any customers. The university she works at is still closed for now but she is hoping to have it open as soon as possible. She is very concerned about the economy after this and she predicts a recession. 

Albert, Alicante, Spain:
He isn't too worried about the virus yet but he is very interested in talking about it. 

Eli,Tokyo, Japan:
Eli believes the Olympic Games should be cancelled or postponed this year because the aftershock of it continuing could be really bad for Japan. 

He said that the Chinese always have a strong team in the Olympics and it is a very popular tournament that will bring a lot of the Chinese people over to spectate. He wants it to be cancelled and says health should come first before the economy.

Min, Wuhan, China:
I took a demo session yesterday with Min, an older man who lives in Wuhan, Hubei Province, he was still told to stay at home and has been at home since January, he said it has been a really tough time, he seemed embarrassed and ashamed that he lived in the city where it potentially started. He told me that the numbers have decreased and things are looking much better, but he said it was far from over yet. 


Thank you all for taking the time to share your news. Stay safe and we hope this situation stabilises soon.

If you have a story to share about TEFL, life and work against the backdrop of Coronavirus, Please share in the comments below.


We strongly recommend seeking advice from the government in your home countries before considering travelling to affected countries.

The situation is likely to change going forward so it is vital that you keep informed about how to stay safe and before accepting overseas job offers.

  • Author: William Bradridge
  • Date: 11/03/2020

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Coronavirus Update