When the novel coronavirus, which started in Wuhan late last year, began spreading outside China to other countries, many experts wondered if it would be "the next big one". We now know the novel coronavirus is indeed "the big one". It has spread to all continents across the world except Antarctica. It has infected about 800,000 people and killed over 40,000 people. Experts agree the last "big one" was the flu pandemic in 1918, which is also known as the Spanish flu. The Spanish flu began in January 1918 during the First World War and ended in December 1920. It infected around 500 million people around the world and killed around 50 million. Will the novel coronavirus kill and infect as many people? Let's not go there!
The word "novel" used this way does not mean a book. It means something new that has never been seen before. The coronavirus which began in Wuhan is a new virus that has never been seen before. The expression "the big one" can be used in many ways. It can be used to describe an earthquake or a pandemic. It means something happening on a very large scale. In the US, "the big one" is often used to describe the next really big earthquake in California, where earthquakes often happen. Scientists say a really big earthquake or "the big one" will almost certainly strike California although no one knows when. When used to describe a pandemic, "the big one" means a large-scale pandemic that kills and infects many people.
The slang expression "let's not go there" means let's not even think or talk about it. This expression is used when someone prefers not to discuss something unpleasant. For example, if your friend asks why your boss fired you and you don't want to discuss it, you can say "let's not go there". No one knows how bad the novel coronavirus will be. It is already far worse than Sars. When people ask me if I think it will be as bad as the Spanish flu, I always reply: "let's not go there".
當那在上年年尾起源於武漢的新型（novel）冠狀病毒，開始在中國以外的其他國家蔓延的時候，許多專家都在思忖，它到底是否「下一件大事」（the next big one）呢？我們現在都知道，這新型（novel）冠狀病毒確實是個「大事件」（the big one），它已擴散到全球除了南極洲以外的所有大洲，感染超過八十萬人，殺死超過四萬人。專家們都同意，上一次「大事」（big one）是一九一八年的流感大流行，也被稱為西班牙流感。那個西班牙流感在一九一八年一月、一次世界大戰期間開始爆發，於一九二○年十二月終止。它感染全球超過五億人，殺死了約五千萬人。這個新型（novel）冠狀病毒可會殺掉和感染這麼多人？Let's not go there! Novel在這裏可不是指一本小說；它是指新型的、新奇的、從未見過的。這個起源於武漢的冠狀病毒是個新型病毒，以前從未見過。習語“the big one”可以有許多用法，它可以用來形容一場地震又或是全球大流行的疾病，意思就是非常大規模的事情。
在美國，“the big one”常用來形容加州下一次很大規模的地震，因加州常發生地震。科學家指，一次很大規模的地震，又或“the big one”，將差不多一定會侵襲加州，雖然沒有人知道會是何時。當用來形容全球大流行病的時候，“the big one”就指一場會殺掉和感染許多人的大規模流行病。俚語“let’s not go there”意即不要再想、再說下去了。當某人不太想討論一些不舒服的事情的時候，就會用到這個習語。例如，若你的朋友問你，為甚麼你的老闆會炒掉你，而你不想討論這件事的話，你便可以說：“let’s not go there”。
沒有人知道這個新型（novel）冠狀病毒發展下去情況會有幾壞，它已經比沙士更為嚴峻。當有人問我，我可會認為它像西班牙流感那麼嚴重？我總是回道：「不要再說了！」（“let’s not go there”）[email protected]
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧