Covid-19 Glossary

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Airborne disease is any malaise that is caused by pathogens that can be transmitted through the air by both small, dry particles and as larger liquid droplets.

Alert systems is a platform that delivers an alerting message to a small or large group of people—anywhere, anytime, on any device or service, all at once. In that way, emergency response administrators provide maximum protection for their people while simultaneously minimizing any damage inflicted on a community’s assets.

Animal-human route of transmission also known as direct zoonosis, wherein the disease is directly transmitted from other animals to humans through bites and saliva (rabies) or through intermediate infection via other animals.

Asymptomatic carrier is a person or other organism that has become infected with a pathogen but displays no signs or symptoms.


Biological weapon also called germ weapon, is any of a number of disease-producing agents—such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, or other biological agents—that may be utilized as weapons against humans, animals, or plants.


Code Blue Alert a.k.a. Alert Level 2, which is raised when an imported case of COVID-19 infection is reported inside the country. The World Health Organization’s declaration of Public Health Emergency of International Concern triggers Alert Level 3, still under Code Blue. Under both alert levels, authorities are expected to activate an inter-agency task force on emerging infectious disease. Government guidelines for disease surveillance are established, along with testing setup for the virus. Travel restrictions, home quarantine, and isolation of patients should be imposed.

Code Red Alert a.k.a. Alert Level 4, which is raised when a local transmission is reported, with a corresponding response. The inter-agency should include more government agencies to expand its response to the spread of the infection. Selective contact tracing will be done. Vulnerable and high-risk groups will be the priority for testing and care. Authorities should intensify its awareness to minimize the fear, anxiety, and unrest of the public.

Code White Alert a.k.a. Alert Level 1, which is raised when an identified case of infection outside the country is confirmed. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and embassies should start coordinating the monitoring of confirmed cases abroad, surveillance at the points of entry, as well as the enforcement of Health Declaration Checklist are expected to be strengthened.

Community quarantine a.k.a. Code Red Level 2, refers to efforts that limit the movement of people going in and out of a city or area, to those working and traveling to provide essential goods only. Stringent social distancing is implemented. Mass gatherings are prohibited and select workers are allowed to travel to and from the city, provided that they present valid proof of employment or a reasonable motive.

Community spread refers to people having been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.

Contact tracing in public health, contact tracing is the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person and subsequent collection of further information about these contacts.

Contact transmission occurs when the respiratory secretions are transferred directly through physical contact with an infected patient, (i.e., handshaking and touching) or indirectly by exposure to intermediate surfaces or objects.

Containment is the isolation of infected cases and their potential contacts in an area or city; this method aims to limit opportunities for exposure, and includes repeated follow-ups of the isolated persons under investigation (PUIs) to ensure that no further transmission occurs.

Contamination is the presence of a constituent, impurity, or some other undesirable element that spoils, corrupts, infects, makes unfit, or makes inferior a material, physical body, natural environment, or workplace.

Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-2019) is an ailment caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which is the seventh known coronavirus to infect people worldwide. It is a “novel” virus, meaning it is a new virus that had not been previously identified in humans. Previously called 2019-nCoV Acute Respiratory Disease, COVID-19 is a contagious disease that causes flu-like symptoms such as dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath, with some cases progressing to pneumonia and multiple organ failure. Similar to other coronavirus diseases like MERS and SARS, COVID-19 is transmitted between humans through respiratory droplets, often produced during coughing and sneezing or through indirect transmission via touching contaminated surfaces. The symptoms generally show between two and 14 days, with an average of five days, after the time a person is exposed.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses responsible for widely known respiratory diseases that have caused an outbreak in recent years: the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). These viruses can infect both people and many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. They can cause a range of respiratory illnesses in humans, which range from the common cold and the flu to lung lesions and pneumonia, resulting in symptoms like fever, cough, and breathing difficulties.

Critical cases (of COVID-19) is a category given to patients that suffer from respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ dysfunction, mostly in the elderly or vulnerable population.


Disinfection is a process that deliberately reduces the number of pathogenic microorganisms in water, air, and surfaces, to protect public health.

Droplet transmission occurs when the virus is transferred by the respiratory secretions expelled by an infected individual onto the mucosal surfaces, such as the mouth, eyes, and nose.


Enhanced community quarantine is a method of isolation where citizens are mandated to stay at home, while all modes of public transport are suspended. However, provision for food and essential health services will be regulated, while the presence of uniformed personnel to enforce quarantine procedures will be heightened. This is the next level above general community quarantine.

Epidemic is the sudden increase in the cases of disease beyond what is normally expected in the population of an area. If an epidemic becomes worldwide, then it is characterized as a pandemic.

Extreme enhanced community quarantine the next level above enhanced community quarantine. Specific areas identified as “hot zones” will be completely closed due to the heightened quarantine. Under the measure, all residents within the quarantine area are mandated to stay inside their homes. Entry to the areas is totally prohibited.


Face mask a material that you wear over your face, for example to prevent yourself from breathing contaminated air or from spreading germs, or to protect your face when you are in a dangerous situation.

Fatality rate in epidemiology, a case fatality rate (CFR) — sometimes called case fatality risk or case fatality ratio — is the proportion of deaths from a certain disease compared to the total number of people diagnosed with the disease for a certain period of time.

Flattening the curve means slowing down the natural course of the disease, which is to spread from an infected person to another. This can be achieved by isolating cases as well as suspected patients, and preventing further spread of the virus through community quarantine, social distancing, and city lockdowns to discourage disease transmission. By doing so, governments and healthcare providers can be in a position to provide better treatment for infected patients, with medical facilities being equipped to handle cases. The lingo is derived from the curved shape of the plotted number of infections over a period of time. A sharply rising curve indicates a faster spread of infection, while a gently rising curve indicates a gradual rise of infected cases over a longer period of time.

Frontliners is a term used to describe people who work on the front lines of an operation, primarily in service roles. In the case of the COVID-19 situation, it refers to medical and military personnel who are deployed to handle the crisis.


Hand hygiene refers to the protocol of washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, which is to be observed throughout the day. In the absence of soap and water, an hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol content can be used.

High-risk more likely than others to get a particular disease, condition, or injury.

Hot zone an area where at least three confirmed COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. People in hot zones will not be allowed to leave their homes while other people will not be allowed entry into the marked area.

Human-to-human transmission refers to the method of transmitting infection from one person to the next and then further onward — in the way that flu or other established human viruses work. It can occur among clusters of people who are in close contact with each other, such as in a family, religious, social, or a work setting.


Immune system a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. The immune system keeps a record of every germ (microbe) it has ever defeated so it can recognize and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again.

Incubation period refers to the time in which a patient catches the COVID-19 virus and the appearance of first symptoms, which is estimated to be in the average five to six days. This is explained by the clinical phenomenon in which the virus replicates inside the cells. At this stage, the immune system response occurs, but the body fails to contain the virus.

Infection is the invasion of an organism’s body tissues by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host tissues to the infectious agents and the toxins they produce. Infectious disease, also known as transmissible disease or communicable disease, is illness resulting from an infection.

Isolation is the separation of an ill person from others in order to prevent the spread of an infection or contamination. If a person has a travel history to a contaminated area or was exposed to an infected person, and has symptoms of respiratory illness, then the person will be isolated in a private room.


Local transmission a locally acquired case, by a person who, despite having no travel history, was infected by the disease.

Lockdown an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger.


Mild cases (of COVID-19) are characterized by mild symptoms of a cold or cough, making COVID-19 virtually indistinguishable from the common cold or seasonal flu. But for mild cases, the virus is likely “self-limiting” meaning that symptoms will go away on their own, as with the flu and common cold. This leads to a dangerous situation where asymptomatic carriers may indeed be transmitting the virus unknowingly.

Mitigation refers to measures undertaken to lessen the gravity of a health emergency.


Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are actions, apart from getting vaccinated and taking medicine, that people and communities can take to help slow the spread of illnesses like pandemic influenza (flu). NPIs are also known as community mitigation strategies. NPIs are among the best ways of controlling pandemic flu when vaccines are not yet available.

N95 mask is an air-purifying respiratory mask that is effective against coronavirus because of its sub-micron filter. It protects the nose and mouth by fully covering these areas to prevent fluid penetration and particles that are less than 5 microns in diameter.


Outbreak is the rise of the cases of disease concentrated within a certain geographic location.


Pandemic refers to the worldwide spread of a new disease or an epidemic that affects many countries and many people across the globe at the same time.

Pathogen is anything that can produce disease. A pathogen may also be referred to as an infectious agent, or in common non-medical language as a germ.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) are specialized clothing or equipment worn by a person for protection against infectious materials.

Pre-symptomatic relating to, being, or occurring before symptoms appear.

Public Health Emergency of International Concern is a World Health Organization category that characterizes a situation that can be regarded as a public health risk to other nations that may require immediate international action.

PUM or Persons Under Investigation is used to characterize people who are under monitoring for being at serious risk of spreading the COVID-19 disease.

PUI or Persons Under Investigation is used to characterize people who are under investigation for having the virus that causes COVID-19.


Quarantine refers to the restriction of activities or separation of persons from those who are not ill, but who may be exposed to an infectious agent or disease. Undergoing quarantine, mandated or voluntary, does not mean that the persons are infected.


Self-Quarantine refers to a protocol of refraining from any contact with other individuals for a period of time (such as two weeks) during the outbreak of a contagious disease by remaining in an isolated room and limiting contact with family members. Individuals are typically asked by health officials to self-quarantine following known contact with an infectious person or after returning from a region where cases of the disease are widely reported.

Severe cases (of COVID-19) suffer from shortness of breath, low blood oxygen saturation, or other respiratory problems.

Social distancing is a protocol of observing a minimum distance of 3 feet (1 meter) between each person, which is undertaken to prevent transmission of viral pathogens. On a community level, it involves avoiding congregation in places with more than ten people.

Susceptible in epidemiology a susceptible individual is a member of a population who is at risk of becoming infected by a disease.

Sustained community transmission an increasing number of local cases whose links cannot be established.

Symptomatic serving as a symptom or sign; in the case of COVID-19, patients with fever, cough, and shortness of breath acquired 2-14 days after exposure.


Testing is a method of identifying if a suspected person has COVID-19. It is also done to determine if a patient is cleared from the disease. Testing kit is used for a medical diagnosis of COVID-19.

Testing kits are known by many brands, which have been certified by the World Health Organization. In the Philippines, a team of experts from the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their COVID-19 Real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) detection kit, commercially known as GenAmplify.


Vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease.

Virus is an infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat and is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host.


Warm zones areas within a 500-meter radius of residences of COVID-19 infected persons. These areas are strictly under surveillance and monitoring.


Zoonotic refers to the propensity of transmitting pathogens from animals to humans.



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