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Glossary of Terms about the COVID-19 Pandemic

Virus – biological agent that causes infectious diseases

Coronavirus –  a large family of viruses that cause illness, ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) 

Novel Coronavirus – a new strain of coronavirus

SARS-CoV-2 – virus that causes the disease called COVID-19

Epidemic – refers to an increase, often sudden, in a disease’s number of cases above what is normally expected in the population of a given area.

Outbreak– carries the same definition of epidemic, but is often used for a more limited geographic area. 

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

Quarantine – separation of people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease

Self-quarantine – self-isolation of someone who may have been exposed to the disease. A person under self-quarantine refrains from social contact to avoid the potential spread of the disease. For COVID-19, the recommended period of self-quarantine is 14 days.

Isolation – separating those with a contagious disease from those who aren’t sick

Symptoms – signs or indication that someone has a disease

Symptomatic – displays symptoms of a disease. COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Asymptomatic – displays no symptoms of disease. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), can be asymptomatic or can result in mild to severe symptomatic disease 

Incubation period – the length of time between the onset of an infection and the appearance of symptoms 

Community spread – means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are unsure of how or where they’ve become infected.

Communicable – refers to a disease that can be transferred from person to person, whether directly or indirectly.

Morbidity rate – frequency or proportion with which a disease appears in a population

Mortality rate – frequency of deaths in a defined population during a specified interval

Social distancing – opting out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance to limit the spread of virus

PUI (Persons under Investigation) – persons exposed to confirmed cases, and display respiratory symptoms or fever

PUM (Persons under Monitoring) – persons exposed to confirmed cases, and don’t display respiratory symptoms or fever


If you need more information, please check these sources:


Department of Health – https://www.doh.gov.ph/ 

World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/ 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/