CONTEXT-The new coronavirus: key terms

Mar 31 (Reuters) – With the spread of the new coronavirus, expressions such as “COVID-19”, “pandemic” and “social distancing” have become part of the daily vocabulary. But what exactly do they mean?

Some of the key terms are explained below:

* There are several coronaviruses that affect humans, in the same way that there are many other types of viruses. The coronavirus that was first recorded in people in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan is a newly identified pathogen that has been dubbed SARS-CoV2. It is this specific coronavirus that is causing the current disease pandemic, so it should be identified as the “new coronavirus” or by its SARS-CoV2 name.

* COVID-19 is the name of the respiratory disease caused by SARS-CoV2, the new coronavirus. It is not caused by any other type of virus and is not caused by any other “coronavirus”.


* Self-isolation applies to people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and to those who live with them. It involves staying home and not going outside, except for your own gardens or patios if they have them. It also involves keeping as much distance as possible from other people in the house, sleeping alone, using separate towels, and washing and cleaning regularly.

* Many Governments around the world have imposed measures of social distancing and confinement to contain the spread and spread of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The term “confinement” includes broad restrictions that affect the movements, work activity, and travel of all people in a given city, region, or country, while social distancing means avoiding direct contact with other people as much as possible . In the case of the United Kingdom, you can leave the house to exercise, to buy essential products or to work, but you need to stay at least 2 meters from others. In other countries such as Spain, however, confinement does not provide for exits to exercise.

* Quarantine is a way of separating and restricting the contacts of people who have been exposed to a disease like COVID-19, in order to determine if they have also been infected and if they fall ill. Therefore, people who returned to their countries of origin after having been in the city of Wuhan, China, for example, or after having traveled on a cruise ship in which cases of COVID-19 have been detected, have been placed in quarantine for about two weeks.

* Both terms are purely descriptive. They serve to describe the outbreak of a disease but are not classifications or ranges: the World Health Organization (WHO) does not “declare” pandemics or epidemics.

* Epidemic is often used to describe the outbreak of a disease that spreads over a wide geographic area and affects a high proportion of its population.

* Pandemic is used to describe an epidemic or the outbreak of a disease that has spread to multiple countries on several continents and affects an exceptionally large number of people.

* A vaccine is a preparation that is given to a healthy person to prevent them from contracting a disease like COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus.

* An antiviral is a drug or therapy that is applied to treat a patient for a disease caused by a virus such as COVID-19. Antivirals cannot treat diseases caused by bacteria, while antibiotics cannot treat diseases caused by a virus.

(Information and newsroom by Kate Kelland; edited by Janet Lawrence; translated by Darío Fernández in the Gdansk newsroom)