Coronavirus COVID-19: Vocabulary List

In this global Coronavirus COVID-19 health emergency, Vitoria has sadly become a hotspot (site with multiple cases of infection) in Spain. In an attempt to prevent the spread of disease, the local authorities are implementing containment measures such as the closure of schools since last Tuesday.

At present, the coronavirus crisis is on everybody’s lips so I have compiled a vocabulary list to enable students to hold a conversation in English about this major issue. This image shows the vocabulary list and down below, each of these expressions is illustrated in the context of current news. 

Containment area/zone 

New York professor who is in quarantine in New Rochelle on Wednesday compared the designated “containment zone” in the area to “house arrest.”

Rockland/Westchester Journal News – March 12, 2020

Contract the disease

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were the only known individuals on the film to contract the disease, insiders said. The married couple was in Australia for production of Baz Luhrmann’s untitled Elvis Presley movie.

Variety – March 11, 2020

Coordinated international response

EU leaders lambast President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend all air travel to the US from 26 European countries stressing that the coronavirus pandemic requires a coordinated international response.

RT News – March 12, 2020

Coronavirus Mutations

Chinese studies link quarantines with coronavirus mutations that may make it more ‘insidious’.

South China Morning Post – March 12, 2020


The new coronavirus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that launch into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Live Science- March 3, 2020


For a two-week span during the worst of China’s coronavirus epidemic, thousands of its people were diagnosed with the disease every day.

March 12, 2020

Epidemic versus Pandemic

Epidemic refers to a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected.

Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.

Epidemics vs. Pandemics

Very Well Health – Updated March 12, 2020

Fight the virus off

Those who get admitted to hospital are given treatment for their symptoms while their immune systems try to fight the virus off.

BBC News – Jan 30, 2020

Highly contagious/communicable

Coronavirus patients with mild symptoms may be highly contagious.

NYPost – March 11, 2020

Hand sanitizer



Washington DC: The New Coronavirus Hotspot*?

*Site with multiple cases of infection

March 11, 2020

Incubation period

The coronavirus’ average incubation period is 5 days, a study shows — but in 1% of cases, it may last longer than the standard 2-week quarantine.

Business Insider – Mar 10, 2020

Infect (infected/infection/infectious)

Here’s How Fast the Coronavirus Could Infect Over 1 Million Americans.

Time – March 12, 2020


Trump Should Self-Quarantine Like Trudeau. Both leaders have been exposed to the coronavirus. But only one is doing the responsible thing.

Foreign Policy – March 12, 2020


A Chinese government spokesman has tried to blame the US army for the deadly coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization this week.

New York Post – March 12, 2020


The coronavirus outbreak has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

BBC News, March 12. 2020

Restriction of movement of individuals

Public health measures to achieve these goals may include quarantine, which involves the restriction of movement of individuals who may have been exposed to the virus

World Health Organisation Interim guidance – February 29, 2020

Self-isolation (Isolate/isolation)

One of the strategies the British government will use to control the spread of COVID-19 is self-isolation. In case you are wondering exactly what self-isolation entails, we have provided ten question and answers.

The conversation – 12 marzo 2020

Shut schools down

The Delhi Government had ordered to shut schools down in the violence-affected areas for a week.

NDTVMar 2, 2020

Spread rapidly

With the virus continuing to spread rapidly, Spain had registered 3,004 cases as of Thursday evening — an increase of more than 800 in less than 24 hours — of which almost half were in Madrid. Nationwide, 86 people have died — up from 47 on Wednesday — while 189 have recovered.

Financial Times – March 12, 2020

Stockpile food

Government urges people not to stockpile food and products.

Newstalk  – March 12, 2020


Coronavirus symptoms, and what to do if you have them.

Globe Staff, Updated March 12, 2020


Non-critical Commission staff to telework from Monday

Test positive

Three cruise ship passengers in Cambodia test positive for virus.

The Star – Mar 13, 2020

Transmit/transmission – (informal) give/ pass on

Can pets contract or transmit coronavirus? Dr Grace Roberts, a virologist at Queen’s University Belfast, explained contraction of the virus came down to certain cell structures which animals are unlikely to have.

Express – Mar 13, 2020

Travelling restrictions

Several countries have implemented travel restrictions in a bid to prevent coronavirus from further spreading.

Evening Standard Mar 10, 2020

More lists created after the publication of this blogpost:

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