Coronavirus in the News: What All the Scientific Terms Mean
COVID-19. Epidemic. Presumptive. Self quarantine.
Social media and the news these days is full of references to the coronavirus. What does it all mean?
Here's a glossary of some of the terms you'll likely find in a news report or government or business announcement about the disease.
Close Contact/Case Contact: Refers to people within 6 feet or within the room or care area of a confirmed or probable patient for a prolonged period of time. Also refers to having direct contact with infectious secretions while the case patient was likely to be infectious. (Source: CDC)
Coronavirus - A large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease, or COVID-19. (Source: WHO)
Novel coronavirus - A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing the coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. (Source: CDC)
COVID-19 - This the World Health Organization's official name for the disease causing the most recent novel coronavirus outbreak. It stands for coronavirus disease of 2019. Formerly, this disease was referred to as the 2019 novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV. (Source: CDC)
Epidemic - A situation where a disease spreads rapidly among many people and in a higher concentration than normal. A pandemic is an epidemic that has spread to many countries.
Incubation period - The time from exposure until the first symptoms develop. (Source: CDC)
Isolation - The separation of a person or people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent spread of the communicable disease (CDC)
Pandemic - A pandemic is an epidemic that has gone global.
Presumptive - After a sample tests positive at the state lab, it is send to the CDC for final testing. State and local public health authorities proceed with their public health investigation and responses as if this were a confirmed case. (Source: New Jersey Department of Health.)
SARS2-COV — A viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. (Source: CDC)
Self quarantine — Self quarantine involves staying at home for 14 days and avoiding contact with other people or animals. This means not going to work, taking public transport, running errands or having visitors stop by your home. People should also monitor their symptoms while in self-quarantine. The Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention advises to “seek prompt medical attention” if symptoms worsen. (Source: Time)
Social distancing — This means remaining out of group settings, avoiding local public transportation and maintaining distance of about 6 feet from others. (CDC)
Steps to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold will also help prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the New Jersey Department of Health:
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid contact with others.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
The CDC says symptoms of COVID-19, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure, include:
- Shortness of breath
If individuals are experiencing symptoms, they should call their healthcare provider before visiting their office.