Coronavirus terms

The new virus of the Coronaviridae family, appearing towards the end of 2019, is causing serious consequences in various aspects around the world.

Given that this is a subject of vital importance at the present time, we’ve prepared a compilation of the most basic terms, for which we’ve included their meanings and translations into Spanish and Catalan. We have also specified a few aspects that tend to cause confusion among the population, such as the correct way to write some terms.


Loss of the sense of taste.

ES: ageusia

CA: agèusia

Airborne transmission

The passage of infection through the air.

ES: transmisión aérea

CA: transmissió aèria


Loss of the sense of smell.

ES: anosmia

CA: anòsmia


A chemical substance that is capable of stopping the development of certain pathogenic microorganisms or is capable of killing them. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are not effective against the coronavirus.

ES: antibiótico

CA: antibiòtic


A protein that appears in response to stimulation by an antigen.

ES: anticuerpo

CA: anticòs


It refers to a person who shows no symptoms of a disease.

ES: asintomático/a

CA: asimptomàtic/a


A group of confirmed cases of an infection concentrated in a well-defined area.

ES: conglomerado de casos

CA: clúster


A healthy person who has shared space with a confirmed case of an infectious disease.

ES: contacto

CA: contacte

Contact tracing/tracking

The action of tracing, in this case studying the contacts of an infected person to determine how and where infection occurred and thereby prevent a virus from spreading.

ES: rastreo

CA: rastreig


A family of viruses that can cause respiratory infections in animals and humans. Some examples of the virus of this family are SARS and MERS.

ES: coronavirus

CA: coronavirus


Acronym for the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. The acronym comes from corona virus disease, and the number 19 refers to the year in which it was detected for the first time (2019).




This refers to the spread of a disease in a country for a certain period of time while simultaneously affecting a large number of people.

ES: epidemia

CA: epidèmia

Epidemic curve

A graph that depicts the number of cases according to the time during which a disease spreads. It is used to measure the speed at which infection from a virus is occurring.

ES: curva epidémica

CA: corba epidèmica

Epidemic outbreak

An abnormal grouping of cases of a disease in a certain place and time.

ES: brote epidémico

CA: brot epidèmic

Flatten/bend the curve

It refers to slowing down the increase in cases in an epidemic.

ES: aplanar la curva

CA: aplanar la corba

Home isolation

A social distancing measure that is applied to reduce the risk of infection from a person who is infected with a virus.

ES: aislamiento domiciliario

CA: aïllament domiciliari


The acronym for “intensive care unit”, which is the section of a hospital where patients who are severely ill and require continuous monitoring and care are admitted.

ES: UCI (unidad de cuidados intensivos)

CA: UCI (unitat de cures intensives)

Imported case

A confirmed case in which a disease has been contracted outside of a country or region and has subsequently developed there.

ES: caso importado

CA: cas importat

Incubation / incubation period

The time that elapses between exposure to a pathogenic organism and the moment when symptoms first appear.

ES: incubación

CA: incubació

Index case

The first detected case of a disease in a population. Also called “patient zero”.

ES: caso índice/inicial

CA: cas índex

Indigenous case

A confirmed case that has occurred due to community/local transmission.

ES: caso autóctono

CA: cas autòcton


An overload of information that is quickly spread in society. It comes from a combination of “information” and “epidemic”.

ES: infodemia

CA: infodèmia


The period of development of a disease in which it is apparently not active because no symptoms are present.

ES: latencia

CA: latència

Lockdown / confinement / shelter in place

The action and effect of confining or restricting something or someone within certain limits.

ES: confinamiento

CA: confinament


The rapid spread of a new disease globally.

ES: pandemia

CA: pandèmia

Patient zero

The first detected case of a disease in a population. Also called “index case”.

ES: paciente cero

CA: pacient zero


The acronym for the term “polymerase chain reaction”. A laboratory test that is being used to identify SARS-CoV-2.

ES: PCR (reacción en cadena de la polimerasa)

CA: PCR (reacció en cadena per la polimerasa)


Preventive isolation during a certain period of time for the purpose of preventing infection. This period need not be of 40 days.

ES: cuarentena

CA: quarantena


Acronym for “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome”, which results from the coronavirus and causes the COVID-19 disease.




A set of diagnostic tests that are systematically performed on population groups for the early detection of a disease or a defect.

ES: cribado

CA: cribratge

Serological test

A method for detecting antibodies in blood.

ES: prueba serológica

CA: prova serològica

State of alarm

A legal measure that is adopted in Spain in the event of disasters, public calamities or health crises, thereby allowing the government to restrict free movement, take control of industries and limit or ration resources or services.

ES: estado de alarma

CA: estat d’alarma

Super spreader

A person whose capacity to transmit a virus is far above average.

ES: supercontagiador

CA: supercontagiador


A therapeutic preparation that promotes a specific response by the immune system. It is not a cure for a disease, rather it is applied to healthy people to prevent them from becoming infected.

ES: vacuna

CA: vacuna

Viral load

The concentration of a virus.

ES: carga viral/vírica

CA: càrrega viral/vírica


Acronym for the World Health Organization.

ES: OMS (Organización Mundial de la Salud)

CA: OMS (Organització Mundial de la Salut)

Zoonotic disease

A disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans and that is caused by a virus, bacteria, parasite or fungus.

ES: enfermedad zoonótica

CA: malaltia zoonòtica

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