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Pandemic 101: A Glossary of All Coronavirus-Related Terms

Confused by all the COVID-19 jargon? Here's a glossary of the frequently used terms related to the pandemic!

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about fear to the public due to the deadly nature of the disease and how it is still not fully understood even by experts. While studies are being conducted to better understand the virus, many believe that it might still take some time before experts can come up with a viable solution. Despite this, basic information about the disease, response protocols, and treatments are now available for everyone, and these can even be heard on the news on a daily basis.

With the daily news and updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be quite confusing to understand the terminologies being used to refer to the different steps in COVID-19 management—from detection to treatment to post-care. This is the reason why My Pope rounds up some of the most used COVID-19 terms. Here, we explain their meanings in the simplest way possible to help you better understand what experts refer to in their bulletins and news. Read on! (Read: What’s the difference between the PCR and the Rapid Test Kits?)

Terms Regarding COVID-19

pandemic-101-a-glossary-of-all-coronavirus-related-terms
Shoppers maintain social distancing as they walk in line to enter a reopened shopping building Monday, June 1, 2020, in Tokyo. (Photo from AP Photo / Eugene Hoshiko / Poynter)

  • Incubation Period
    • The length of time between the exposure of an individual to the disease to the time they start showing symptoms. What health workers are following right now is the 14 day incubation period—meaning anyone who has come in contact with the patient from the first day up to the 14th day before they showed symptoms must be contacted and monitored.
  • Asymptomatic
  • Symptomatic
    • Individuals who have shown or are showing signs of COVID-19 infection. These symptoms range from mild symptoms like dry cough and sore throat to more severe ones like loss of taste and smell and difficulty breathing.
  • Suspect
    • Individuals that present symptoms and have recently traveled to (~14 days before onset of symptoms) or live in areas that have cases of local transmission of COVID-19. Those who had close contact with probable or confirmed cases 14 days prior showing symptoms are also considered suspect individuals. (Read: 3 Secrets to Protect Yourself From Viruses In Crowded Places)
    • Suspect cases could also be anyone over the age of 60, pregnant women, individuals with co-morbidities, or health workers who are showing symptoms. Anyone who suddenly develops respiratory illnesses with severe symptoms is considered a suspect as well.
  • Probable
    • Probable cases are suspect individuals who are awaiting test results or those who have tested with an unaccredited COVID-19 laboratory.
  • Confirmed
    • Anyone who has a positive RT-PCR test is considered a confirmed case.
  • Quarantine
  • Isolation
    • Isolation, on the other hand, is done to those who have been exposed to confirmed cases. During isolation, individuals will be monitored for a certain number of days to see if they develop symptoms or not.

Terms Regarding COVID-19 Testing

covid19-testing-kits
Covid-19 Rapid Diagnostic Kits. (Photo from PTI / Tibetan Review)

  • Rapid Test
  • Swab Test
    • The RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test, more commonly known as the swab test, makes use of a person’s nasal swab to detect the presence of the virus’s genetic material. Anyone who comes out positive in the RT-PCR test is called a confirmed case.
  • Mass Testing
    • Mass testing is the conduct of targeted testing to a large number of individuals that may have come in close contact with a confirmed case. It does not necessarily mean testing the entire population of a certain area–it just means testing individuals who could be a carrier of or have contracted the disease.

Terms Regarding Prevention

pretend-that-you-have-the-virus-and-other-ways-to-cope-in-a-world-with-covid-19
Photo by Dhaya Eddine Bentaleb on Unsplash

  • Hand Hygiene
    • Health experts are encouraging everyone to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds every time they touch a surface used by others such as elevator buttons and door handles. If soap and water are not available, a 70% alcohol can do. (*Note: Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with dirty hands.)
  • Physical Distancing
  • Cough Etiquette
    • Cough etiquette is how to properly cough around other people or in public places. The proper way to cough, according to health experts, is to cough into a tissue (with your nose and mouth fully covered) or into the inside of your elbow. When using a tissue, make sure to dispose of it properly to avoid spreading germs and viruses.

For more information on COVID-19, you may visit the World Health Organization website, the Department of Health Website, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. You may also check DOH’s covid19.healthypilipinas.ph for infographics and other data on the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

Follow the DOH official Facebook page and Viber community for more updates.

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