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Covid-19 Vocabulary - What do these words mean?

Published Apr 7, 2020


DURBAN - Not only has the coronavirus changed how we live our lives, from the way we wash our hands, how we shop and how we speak but the pandemic has created a whole new vocabulary and in the process resuscitating some old words which were always there, but not in use.

You might have heard everyone speaking the new lingo from your local politician, pastor, Taxi driver and even your kids. Here are just a few words that reflect how the virus has infected our vocabulary:

Flatten the curve: collective action to be taken in order to slow the number of new cases.


is the fifth generation of wireless communications technologies supporting cellular data networks

Pandemic: A disease prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world.

Self-quarantine: Choosing or volunteering to isolate out of caution


Quarantine: a state or place of isolation for a person who may have come in contact with contagious diseases

Patient zero: is defined as a person identified as the first to become infected with an illness or disease in an outbreak.

Social distancing: is a new term for most of us, but has become ever-present in coverage of safe practices for preventing the spread of the disease

Essential businesses: While it is generally up to government and municipalities to determine what qualifies as an essential, this includes grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, filling stations among others.

Nonessential business: are businesses that are recreational in nature and these include theaters, gyms, museums, casinos, sports venues and others.

Lockdown: a government-imposed ban on any movement inside the country and the closing of all nonessential businesses

Immunocompromised: Having an impaired or compromised immune response

Vaccine: s

omething given to a healthy person to prevent them from being infected with a disease such as the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus

Anti-viral: a type of medicine, or therapeutic, that would be given to try and treat a person who is infected with a viral disease - such as COVID-19.

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