COVID-19 Glossary

This glossary explains some of the terms you may encounter in reports of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

asymptomatic
Not showing any symptoms of a disease
coronavirus
A group of viruses that includes many different kinds, some of which can cause disease in humans
COVID-19
The name given to the disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged in China in December 2019
epidemic
Occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behavior, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy. The community or region and the period in which the cases occur are specified precisely. The number of cases indicating the presence of an epidemic varies according to the agent, size, and type of population exposed, previous experience or lack of exposure to the disease, and time and place of occurrence. (Compare to pandemic)
immunity
The ability to resist an infection by the action of the body's immune system
isolation
Separating a person or group of people known or believed to be infected with a communicable disease from those who are not infected, to prevent spread of the disease. (Compare to quarantine)
pandemic
An epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people. (Compare to epidemic)
prodrome
The period of time during which an infected person may not yet have developed very specific or severe symptoms. They may not realize they are sick but may still be shedding the virus.
quarantine
Separating a person or group of people known or believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the disease. (Compare to isolation)
Quarantine involves:
--Using standard hygiene such as frequently washing your hands and not touching your face
--Not sharing things like towels and utensils with other people who share the same household
--Staying at home and not having any visitors
--Staying at least 6 feet away from other people in your household
You do not need to have symptoms of COVID-19 to self-quarantine. Caregivers who have traveled or are leaving their homes frequently to run errands may choose to self-quarantine especially in COVID-19 hot zones.
SARS-CoV-2
The scientific name for the specific coronavirus that causes COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.” This name was chosen because the virus is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003; it is important to understand that, while related, the two viruses are different, and SARS and COVID-19 are different diseases.
social distancing
Helping to prevent spread of disease by remaining out of crowded public places, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet or 2 meters from others when possible

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