Here is a guide to key coronavirus terms

Updated: Apr 01, 2020, 12:03 AM(IST)

As the new coronavirus spreads, words such as COVID-19, pandemic and social distancing have become part of daily vocabulary. But what exactly do they mean?

Here are some key terms explained:


The coronavirus that first emerged in people in December in China is a newly-identified human coronavirus and has been named SARS-CoV2.

It is this specific coronavirus that is causing the current disease pandemic, and it should be referred to either as the new coronavirus or by its name SARS-CoV2.




It is not caused by any other type of virus and it is not caused by just any “coronavirus”.



It involves staying at home and not going out, apart from into your own garden or yard if you have one. It also means staying away, as much as possible, from other people in the home, sleeping alone, using separate towels, and washing and cleaning regularly.



Social distancing has been introduced by many governments around the world and is designed to help people avoid catching and spreading the disease caused by the new coronavirus. You can leave your home for exercise, for essential shopping or for work, but you should stay at least 2 meters from others.



The term is descriptive. It describes an outbreak of disease but is not a classification or ranking.




It is a descriptive term which describes an outbreak of disease but is not a classification or ranking, and the World Health Organization (WHO) does not declare outbreaks as having pandemic or epidemic status.



This is why groups of people returning to their home countries after being in Wuhan, China, for example, or after being on a cruise ship where cases of COVID-19 were detected, were quarantined for around two weeks.



Lockdown or shutdown also includes restrictions on movement for work and travel on all people in a city, region or country.



UNICEF said that many world governments may have to halt their ongoing immunisation programmes to tackle the ongoing pandemic.



Anti-virals cannot treat diseases caused by bacteria, and antibiotics cannot treat diseases caused by viruses.


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