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COVID-19 A to Z

Coronavirus (COVID-19) words and terms explained in plain English 

The COVID-19 ID Project aims to improve people’s health literacy about COVID-19 by providing accurate and up-to-date information which will increase knowledge, understanding and confidence and enable people to make good health decisions. 

During the COVID-19 outbreak there are many words and terms being used regularly on news, radio, TV and online that we might never have seen, heard or used before.  To help improve everyone’s understanding we have compiled an A-Z glossary of COVID-19 words and terms with plain English explanations.  This glossary has been adapted (with permission) for a Northern Ireland context from National Adult Literacy Agency Coronavirus COVID-19 words and terms explained in plain English

As COVID-19 is a new and emerging situation we will be updating our glossary as often as possible with relevant words and terms.    If there are any words and terms relating to COVID-19 that you would like to see included in the glossary, please email patriciaharte@cdhn.org  

The latest information on the COVID-19 and its effects in Northern Ireland can be found on the following official websites:  

Official information about all aspects of Covid-19  
Health information about Covid-19  
Impact of Covid-19 on health and social care services e.g. appointments with GP, dentist, hospital etc 

Official Government information can be found on the Department of Health website and the Northern Ireland Executive website 

 

ANOSMIA

The loss or a change in your normal sense of smell (it can also affect your sense of taste)

On 18th May 2020 the Chief Medical Officers (CMO) from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland released a statement telling people that Anosmia was now inlcuded as one of the symptoms of COVID-19.  In their statement they said:

  • People will need to self-isolate immediately if they develop a new continuous cough OR fever OR as of today, a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (Anosmia).
  • All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the person with the symptoms receives a negative test result.

Read the full statement here: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/statement-four-uk-chief-medical-officers

For more information on COVID-19 Symptoms click here

ASYMPTOMATIC

This is when you do not feel unwell and do not show any symptoms of COVID-19.  However, you can still pass the virus on to others. 

AT RISK GROUPS

There are some groups of people who may be more at-risk of serious illness if they catch COVID-19.  You are more at risk if you are: 

  • over the age of 70 - even if you do not have an underlying health condition 

  • Pregnant  

  • Living with chronic (long-term) diseases e.g. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis 

  • Have a weak immune system due to conditions such as HIV or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy 

For full details of who is considered at risk, visit NI Direct Webpage Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for vulnerable people 

 

CASE

A case is a person with COVID-19.  An index case is the first confirmed case in a population, region, or family.  

CATCH IT. BIN IT. KILL IT

This slogan is used as part of the advice from the Public Health Agency to help stop the spread of  COVID-19:

  • Catch it: if you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose
  • Bin it: throw it away carefully after use
  • Kill it: wash your hands

 

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER (CMO)

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is the most senior government advisor on health-related matters and lead medical expert in the Department of Health. The CMO in Northern Ireland is Dr Michael McBride 

CLINICAL TRIALS

These are types of research that study new tests and treatments to understand their effects on human health. They can be used to study the effectiveness and safety of medications (such as vaccines) by monitoring their effects on large groups of people. 

CLUSTER

This refers to a number of people in the same space who all have the same disease. For example, a cluster of people in nursing homes or hospitals. 

COCOONING

Cocooning is a term used by health officials in Republic of Ireland. It describes the practice being used to protect those over 70 or extremely medically vulnerable people from coming into contact with COVID-19. It required people in these groups to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact with others where possible.  There has been some easing of the cocooning restrictions in the Republic of Ireland.  For more information visit Health and Safety Executive

In Northern Ireland this is referred to as shielding.  More information on shielding can be found here.   

COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION

This occurs where a person who gets COVID-19: 

  • has not travelled to an affected area, and 

  • has no connection to a known case. 

It means that COVID-19 is spreading within the local community  

COMMUNICABLE

This term describes a disease that can be spread from one person to another. COVID-19 is a communicable disease.  

CO-MORBIDITY

This means having two different health conditions at the same time. COVID-19 has been found to be particularly severe for people who have other health issues. 

COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM

This is where you have a weak immune system (immunosuppressed). There are many things that can cause a weak immune system, including: 

  • Cancer treatment 

  • Conditions such as HIV and AIDS 

  • Medication such as steroids tablets 

  For more information visit NI Direct Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for vulnerable people 

CONTACT (DIRECT AND INDIRECT)

Contact with someone with COVID-19 can include direct contact and indirect contact which can spread the virus.   

  • Direct contact is when you breathe in droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze through the air. That’s why keeping your distance to 2 metres apart is important. 
  • Indirect contact is when you touch something that the infected person has touched with the virus and it is spread to you. That’s why cleaning regularly touched surfaces like door handles, light switches and so on is important. 

CONTACT TRACING

When a person tests positive with COVID-19 they will be contacted by the PHA’s (Public Health Agency) Contact Tracing Service from the telephone number (028) 9536 8888 .  They will then be asked to list all the people they've recently been in close contact with.  Those people will then be contacted and provided with support and guidance on self-isolation and the need to get tested if they develop symptoms.

Close contacts will be contacted by the team using the same (028) 9536 8888 number.  If you receive a call from this number it is very important that you answer the call to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

For more information and a list of FAQ's (frequently asked questions) on contact tracing in Northern Ireland click here

CONTAGIOUS

This means that a disease can be spread from one person to another, typically by direct contact.  This is why we wash our hands regularly and limit our contact with other people during this COVID-19 outbreak. 

CONTAINMENT PHASE

This is an early step introduced to prevent the virus from spreading in the community for as long as possible. It involved identifying early cases and trying to establish who the infected person has been in contact with to try and limit the spread of COVID-19. Source: RTÉ website: the terminology of COVID-19 

CONTAINMENT STRATEGY

Process of preventing transmission of COVID-19 from an infected individual to others. Part of the containment strategy includes isolating a person with COVID-19 from other people. 

CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

A coronavirus is a type of virus. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. It can affect your lungs and airways. The name COVID-19 comes from the year it was first detected (2019) and using letters from CO-rona-VI-rus D-isease. Source: NI Direct Coronavirus (COVID-19): overview and advice 

COVID-19 NI INFORMATION APP

A new COVID-19 NI information app provides advice and links to vital trusted information. As the situation changes the app will be regularly updated to ensure it stays up to date.  

You can view the app online here or you can download the COVID-19 NI app for both Apple and Android devices using the relevant links below: 

COUGH (NEW OR CONTINUOUS)

This is one of the three main symptoms of COVID-19, the other main symptoms are a high temperature (fever) and a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (Anosmia).

New cough: A cough that you’ve never had before. For those with a chronic cough, this means that the cough will have worsened

Continuous cough: coughing for more than an hour on three or more occasions within a 24 hour period

Source: COVID-19 NI app

 

DELAY PHASE

In this phase the government has taken measures to reduce the peak impact of the COVID-19 and to slow its spread.  For example, shutting schools and colleges and placing restrictions on public gatherings are measures to reduce and delay the impact of COVID-19. Source: RTÉ website: the terminology of COVID-19 

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH 

The Department of Health (DoH) is one of nine Northern Ireland Departments.  Find out more about DoH here 

DIAGNOSTICS

The methods used by healthcare staff to identify a particular illness. E.g. laboratory testing 

DISEASE

An illness that affects a person, animal, or plant. It can prevent the body and mind from working normally. 

DISINFECTANT 

This is a chemical that kills bacteria. A common disinfectant is bleach.  Disinfectants come in different forms such as liquid, spray bottles, wipes and concentrate. 

 

ENDEMIC

The constant presence of a disease in a population within a certain area. Source: RTÉ website: the terminology of COVID-19 

EPIDEMIC

This is a sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease – more than what’s typically expected for the population in that area. 

EPIDEMIOLOGY

The study of the spread or pattern of sickness in a group of people. 

FACE COVERING

These are most commonly made out of cloth and cover the nose and mouth. They can be secured to the head with ties or straps. They may be manufactured or home made. 

From 10 July 2020, it’s the law in Northern Ireland that passengers and staff on public transport must wear a face covering:

  • on bus, coach and train services
  • in public transport stations
  • in indoor areas of a ferry and outdoor areas where you can’t keep two metres social distance

From Monday August 10 the use of face coverings will also be mandatory (required by law) in shops, shopping centres and any indoor public space where it is not possible to maintain social distancing.  A public information campaign called ‘Wear one for Everyone’ is being launched to raise awareness of the benefits of face masks/coverings.  We have teamed up with FactcheckNI to help explain the current rules regarding face covering/face masks in NI.  Read our article here

These new rules do not apply for children under the age of 13. Click here for more information and a full list of other people who are also exempt from the new rule. 

  • The UK Government have provided guidance on how to make a cloth face covering here
  • Click here to watch a video on how to use face coverings.

Even if we do decide to wear a face covering it is still really important we keep:

  • Social distancing: staying at least 2m (6 feet) away from other people. 
  •  Washing our hands regularly using soap and water
  •  If we cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover our mouth and nose, throw it away carefully after use, and wash our hands.

That’s still the best way to protect us and others from COVID-19.  Source: Public Health Agency; Face Coverings

See also MASKS

FALSE INFORMATION

False information is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers. Always get your facts through trusted sources. As part of COVID-19 ID Project we are working in partnership with FactCheckNI to fact check unofficial information about COVID-19. CDHN will only publish official or fact checked information about COVID-19 on social media and on our website.  Official websites in NI to get COVID-19 information are at the start of this page.

FAKE NEWS

Fake news is news or stories on the internet or social media that are not true. There are two kinds of fake news: 

  1. False stories that are deliberately published or sent around, in order to make people believe something untrue or to get lots of people to visit a website. These are deliberate lies that are put online, even though the person writing them knows that they are made up. 

  1. Stories that may have some truth to them, but they're not completely accurate. This is because the people writing them - for example, journalists, bloggers or people putting posts up on their Facebook profiles - don't check all of the facts before publishing the story, or they might exaggerate some of it. 

This is happening a lot with COVID-19 with many people publishing these stories in order to get as many shares as possible. 

Source:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/38906931 

FACT CHECKING

This is the process of checking that all the facts in a piece of writing, a news article, a speech, a social media post etc are correct. 

FEVER (HIGH TEMPERATURE)

Fever or high temperature is one of the three main symptoms of COVID-19, the other main symptoms are a new, continuous cough (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) and a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (Anosmia).   

A Fever or High Temperature means you are hot to touch on your chest or back.  It is not necessary to have a thermometer to check your temperature. 

A temperature of 38C or more is considered a high temperature (fever) 

IMPORTANT 

  • It's not always easy to take a temperature accurately 

  • If you feel hot or shivery, you may have a high temperature even if a thermometer says your temperature is below 38C  Source: NHS 

Advice from COVID-19 App:  Don’t have a thermometer? Instead check if you have felt unusually hot or cold, shivering at normal room temperature or feverishness. 

'FLATTEN THE CURVE'

This is about reducing the rate at which people become infected with COVID-19. If that rate is pictured as a curve, ideally it would look low and long than high and narrow. This means there is a slowing of the spread of the disease and allows our healthcare system to cope.  

Source: journal.ie article

FLU

Flu is an illness caused by the influenza virus. It occurs every year, usually in winter. Find out more on the flu here

 

GOV.UK WEBSITE

This is a central website for UK government services and information. In NI we have our own local websites where you can find out more under Health and Social Care. NI Direct has links to all  Health and Government information. 

 

HAND HYGIENE AND HANDWASHING

Hand hygiene is a way of cleaning your hands that reduces harmful bacteria on them and stops the spread of harmful germs. The best way to prevent the spread of infections, including COVID-19, is good hand hygiene. This means washing your hands regularly using soap and water and drying them with paper towels.  Watch a video here  

For more information about hand hygiene visit NI Direct Hand Hygiene 

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE  (HSC) 

The National Health Service (NHS) in Northern Ireland is referred to as Health and Social Care (HSC) .  There are a number of HSC organisations who work together to plan, deliver and monitor Health and Social Care across Northern Ireland.  They all have hscni.net websites.  You can find out more here 

Information on COVID-19 can be found on the following HSCNI sites. 

6 trusts 

Official Government information can be found on the Department of Health website and the Northern Ireland Executive website.                                          

To find out more about the structure of our Health system in Northern Ireland see our article with FactCheckNI here 

HEALTH INEQUALITIES

Everyone should have the same opportunity to enjoy a healthy life but that is not always the case. The conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age can affect our health and well-being and these factors are called the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH), see graphic below.

The differences in how people experience the SDOH across our communities are often unfair and unavoidable. These differences are called health inequalities.

Covid-19 has made these inequalities  worse for those already struggling and for others where circumstances have changed because of the pandemic. These include people in low paid or insecure jobs, people living with existing health conditions, people who were already lonely, isolated or experiencing challenges in their homes, like domestic violence, child abuse and addiction to drugs and alcohol.  Many are finding it hard to pay their bills, to buy food and to access the services they need. This can lead to a feeling out of control, increased stress and poorer health and well-being.  To find out more on COVID-19 and health inequalities read our article with FactCheckNI Health Inequalities and COVID-19 in NI. 

For more information on health inequalities including factsheets, policy documents and tool kits visit https://elevateni.org/resources/health-inequalities/

HEALTH LITERACY

Health literacy is about our knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence to be able to use health and care information and services to make good health decisions. Source: Western Health Literacy Partnership 2019.

Strong health literacy is important as we are dealing with a lot of health information during this COVID-19 outbreak. 

HEALTH MINISTER

The Health Minister in Northern Ireland has overall responsibility for the Department of Health.  The minister assisted by the Department of Health make policy and legislation for health in Northern Ireland. The Health Minister in Northern Ireland is Robin Swann.   

HERD IMMUNITY

This is when a high percentage of the community is immune to a disease, usually through vaccination and/or prior illness. When there is a high level of herd immunity against a particular disease then infection stops spreading in the community. This is why people are encouraged to get vaccinations, both to protect themselves and others.   

HIGH TEMPERATURE

High temperature or Fever is one of the three main symptoms of COVID-19, the other main symptoms are a new, continuous cough (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) and a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (Anosmia). 

A High Temperature or Fever means you are hot to touch on your chest or back.  It is not necessary to have a thermometer to check your temperature. A temperature of 38C or more is considered a high temperature (fever).

IMPORTANT 

  • It's not always easy to take a temperature accurately. 

  • If you feel hot or shivery, you may have a high temperature even if a thermometer says your temperature is below 38C. Source: NHS 

Advice from COVID-19 App:  Don’t have a thermometer? Instead check if you have felt unusually hot or cold, shivering at normal room temperature or feverishness. 

 

IMMUNISATION

This is process where a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, usually by giving them a vaccine. 

INCUBATION PERIOD

The time between when you are exposed to the virus and when symptoms and signs become obvious. 

INFODEMIC

This is when there is too much information – some accurate and some not.  

An infodemic can make it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it. 

Source: WHO Situation Report 13, February 2020

 

LOCKDOWN

These are the Government rules to limit contact between people to stop the spread of COVID-19.  During lockdown in Northern Ireland everyone was asked to stay at home unless they had a reasonable excuse or need for leaving.  Working with FactCheckNI we put together some useful information about the rules of lockdown in NI.  Find it here.

The Northern Ireland Executive launched their COVID-19 recovery plan Coronavirus: Our Approach to Decision Making on 12 May 2020.   This plan outlines the steps the Government will take to move out of lockdown.  To find out more about Northern Ireland's recovery plan including what lockdown rules have been eased to date read our article with FactcheckNI What is Northern Ireland's COVID-19 Recovery Plan?

LOCAL LOCKDOWN

If a certain area experiences an increase in COVID-19 cases, some lockdown rules could be re-introduced locally to try and stop the spread of the virus.  This could include shutting outdoor spaces and cancelling events.  We are still learning more about how local lockdowns will work and we will update the A-Z when more information is available.

 

MASKS

The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently says only two groups of people should wear protective medical masks:

  • People who are sick and showing symptoms
  • People caring for people suspected to have COVID-19

For more information visit WHO Advice for Public: when and how to wear masks

We have teamed up with FactcheckNI to help explain the current rules regarding face covering/face masks in NI.  Read our article here

See also FACE COVERING

MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING

We all have mental health, just like we all have physical health. Sometimes we feel well, and sometimes we don’t.  Mental health is about how we think, feel and act, and this is always changing.  When our mental health is good, we enjoy being around other people and we feel able to take on challenges and new experiences. But when our mental health is not so good, we can find it much harder to cope

Source: youngminds.org.uk

The last few months have been a worrying and challenging time, with so much uncertainty about what will happen and big changes to our everyday lives due to COVID-19.  It’s important we take care of our mental and emotional wellbeing during this time.

COVID-19 Wellbeing NI is an online hub to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland  during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  It includes information, self-help guides and support and aims to help people to take steps to look after their mental health and reach out for help and support when needed.  Visit it here https://covidwellbeingni.info/  

MISINFORMATION

This is false or inaccurate information that deliberately intends to deceive. 

MITIGATION PHASE

in this phase, the aim is to reduce the damage of COVID-19 in the community by implementing a number of measures such as:

  1. providing hospitals with the support they need to maintain essential services as COVID-19 spreads

  1. helping communities to reduce the overall impact of COVID-19 on their lives, businesses and communities

MORBIDITY RATE

This is the proportion of people who have an illness in the population. It is usually considered in terms of a percentage or per 100,000 people. 

MORTALITY RATE

This is the proportion of people who have died from an illness in the population.  It may be expressed as a percentage or per 100,000.  

 

OUTBREAK

A number of disease cases higher than what is normally expected.  In 2020, we are currently experiencing a sudden outbreak of COVID-19.  

 

PANDEMIC

This is when an epidemic spreads between countries affecting a large number of people. In 2020, we are in a pandemic with the worldwide spread of COVID-19. 

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

This is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. It includes for example masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection. 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING

This means people are separated out. For example, when we go outside we must make sure we are 2 metres ( 6 foot) away from the next person.  This is also called social distancing.  Read our article with FactcheckNI here which helps explain current guidance around Social Distancing in Northern Ireland including recently announced changes to the 2m rule in certain circumstances.

PRE-EXISTING CONDITION

This means any condition for which the patient has already received medical advice or treatment. For example, diabetes, cancer, lung disease and heart disease. It can also be called an underlying condition. 

 

QUARANTINE AND SELF QUARANTINE 

A period of time where a person or animal with a contagious disease is isolated. 

Self-quarantine is where you restrict your movements to avoid contact with other people within your home and in social situations for a period of time – in Northern Ireland if you have symptoms of COVID-19, you'll need to stay at home for 7 days.   

More information is available here  

 

R VALUE

The R value tells us the average number of people one infected person can pass coronavirus (COVID-19) onto.  For example, if a virus has an R value of 3, it means that every person with the virus will pass it on to 3 other people if we are not doing anything to stop the spread.

To beat COVID-19 we need to keep the R value as low as we can.

Click here to watch a video explaining the R value 

RECOVERY PLAN 

The plan the government will use to start lifting the lockdown rules for example allowing us to meet up with family and friends who do not live with us and reopening some shops and businesses.    

On 12th May 2020 the Northern Ireland Executive released a five-step recovery plan that explains how they are going to decide to ease rules and slowly move out of lockdown in Northern Ireland.  You can find it here  

We teamed up with FactCheckNI to help explain the five-step plan including information on what restrictions have been eased so far.  Read our article here

The UK Government have also published a plan for England: Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy and the Republic of Ireland Government released their Roadmap for reopening society and business

RESPIRATORY

This means breathing. Lungs help us to breathe. 

RESPIRATORY HYGIENE

These are measures to prevent infection such as: 

  • Covering your nose or mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and getting rid of the used tissue in a waste bin and washing your hands. 

  • Coughing or sneezing into the inner elbow (upper sleeve) rather than into the hand, if no tissues are available. 

  • Keeping unwashed hands away from the mouth, eyes and nose.

RESTRICTED MOVEMENT

This means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. It is sometimes referred to as self-quarantine. 

In Northern Ireland the Government introduced restrictions on our movements during the COVID-19 pandemic to help stop the spread of the virus.  These included that no-one may leave their home without an reasonable excuse.  

We teamed up with FactCheckNI to provide more information on Northern Ireland's COVID-19 recovery plan including details of what restrictions have been eased so far.  You can find it here

SELF ISOLATING

This means staying indoors and avoiding contact with other people. If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, do not leave your home for seven days from when your symptoms started. More information on self-isolation is available here 

SHIELDING

Is used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with COVID-19.  It requires people who are at a very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 because of an underlying health condition to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact with other people for at least 12 weeks (3 months).

The Chief Medical Officer has recently updated the guidance for people who are shielding.  From 31 July 2020, it is anticipated that shielding for extremely vulnerable people will be paused if the rate of community transmission of COVID-19 remains at a low level. Working with Factcheck NI we have written an article helping to explain the new guidance;  you can find it here

SOCIAL DISTANCING

This means you stay away from people, so less people get the virus. Stay at least 2m (6 feet) away from other people.  

On 18 June 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive announced that the 2 metre distance will be reduced to 1 metre for children returning to school on 24 August, following advice from the Public Health Agency and the Chief Medical Officer. 

Read our article with FactcheckNI here which helps explain current guidance around Social Distancing in Northern Ireland and recent changes to the 2m rule in certain circumstances.

SPREAD (STOP THE SPREAD)

COVID-19 is spread through sneeze and or cough droplets.  If you cough or sneeze, use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose, throw it away carefully after use, and wash your hands. Source: PHA Preventing the spread of infection 

STOPCOVID NI CONTACT TRACING APP

The StopCOVID NI app is a contact tracing app for Northern Ireland.  A contact tracing app is a smartphone application that helps people detect if they have been in close contact with someone who has subsequently received a positive test for COVID-19.  Working with FactCheck NI we have written a Q&A article about the app that helps explain how it works.  You can read it here.  

How do I download the the StopCOVID NI app?

The app is available to download now on your mobile phone from Apple App Store and the Google Play Store:

SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

There are signs that you might have COVID-19 

The main symptoms to look out for are: 

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature); 

  • a new, continuous (ongoing) cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual) 

  • anosmia - the loss or a change in your normal sense of smell (it can also affect your sense of taste)

Source: COVID-19 app - What are the symptoms of COVID-19

SUPER SPREADER

This is a person who infects significantly more people than usual. You can read more about this term in this article in the Guardian. 

SUPPLY CHAIN

This is a system of organisations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. In relation to COVID-19, a supply chain is about how food and other products get from a farm or factory into our supermarkets and shops. 

SUPPPORT BUBBLE

People who live alone can form a support unit (a 'bubble') with one other household indoors.  The bubble will be made up of these two households, the person living on their own and the people living in the other household.  The second household can be of any size.

Social distancing will not be required in your bubble; this will allow you to visit, stay over and spend more time with the second household.

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, a household cannot be part of more than one bubble and should maintain social distancing from people outside of their bubble.

If anyone within your bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble should self-isolate.  Particular care needs to be taken if any member is regarded as a vulnerable person in terms of the virus.

Source: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/covid-19-information-public#support-bubbles-for-single-occupancy-households

From Monday 6 July 2020, people living alone and shielding can form a support bubble with one other household.  More information is available here.

SURGE

A sudden increase in cases of people infected with COVID-19. 

SWAB

This is a small piece of cotton wool used by a doctor or nurse for taking a specimen (sample of something). If you need a test for COVID-19 a healthcare worker will take a sample from inside your nose or mouth using a swab. 

SYMPTOMATIC PERSON

This is a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 and can spread it to other people. For more on COVID-19 symptoms visit NI Direct Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) 

 

TESTING

This is where people with symptoms that could be COVID-19 are checked for the virus by taking a swab from their nose or mouth. 

Anyone over the age 5 in Northern Ireland with symptoms of COVID-19 is now eligible for testing.  For more information (including how to arrange a test) click here 

TRANSMISSION

The act of transferring something from one person or place to another. In the case of COVID-19, this means transferring the virus from one person to another by coming into close contact with someone who has the virus and may be coughing or sneezing. You can also get the virus from touching surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on. 

TRIAGE

This is the process of sorting people based on their need for immediate medical treatment. It is used in hospitals to make sure the sickest people are seen by medical staff first.   

 

UNDERLYING CONDITION

This means any condition for which the patient has already received medical advice or treatment. For example, diabetes, cancer, lung disease and heart disease. It can also be called a pre-existing condition. People with underlying conditions are more at risk of serious illness if they catch COVID-19. 

 

VACCINE

This is a product that helps the body’s immune system to fight against infections. Most vaccines are given by an injection, but some are given orally (by mouth) or sprayed into the nose. There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. 

VECTOR/S

In medicine, a vector is a carrier of disease. 

VENTILATOR

This is a machine to support breathing. It helps to get oxygen into the lungs, removes carbon dioxide from the body and helps people breathe easier. It can also breathe for people who cannot breathe on their own. 

VIRAL LOAD

A person’s viral load is simply how much of the virus they have in their body. 

Research is showing that a person’s viral load might determine how sick they will get.  Studies are ongoing to find out more about viral load and COVID-19.  

Source: The Lancet 

VIROLOGIST

A scientist or doctor who studies viruses and the diseases viruses cause. 

VIRUS

It is a tiny, living thing (particle) that causes disease and sickness when a person becomes infected with the virus.   

VULNERABLE PERSON OR PEOPLE

A vulnerable person is someone in need of special care, support, or protection.  During the COVID-19 outbreak vulnerable people are those who may be more at-risk of serious illness if they catch COVID-19.   

A full list of people who are considered vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found at here 

 

WHO (WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION)

The authority responsible for public health within the United Nations system (about 53 countries). It has excellent information resources including videos about washing hands and how-to social distance. The website is https://www.who.int/ 

WHO ALERT ON WHATSAPP

The World Health Organisation launched WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp.  This is a messaging service that will send you the latest reliable and trusted information and news on COVID-19. This includes symptom information and how to protect yourself. You can also ask questions. 

To join using WhatsApp, send the word ‘Hi’ to this number:  

00 41 798 931 892. 

WUHAN

This is the city in China where the first case of COVID-19 was discovered. 

 

Definitions are taken and adapted from: