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State of Disaster vs lockdown: Coronavirus terms defined

By Aarti Bhana

Is South Africa in a state of lockdown? Or shutdown? Disaster? All three? And what the heck is the difference between self-quarantining and self-isolating?

With all the new Covid-19 and Coronavirus lingo doing the rounds, we don’t blame you if you’re feeling slightly confused about the definitions. 

We’ve explained the most important terms to you in our nifty little graphic below – including the difference between the various kinds of shutdowns South Africa is, and could, face. 

Before we get there though, a little background on the virus itself. 

How the virus got its name

When the outbreak began, it was first referred to as the Coronavirus. What does a mexican beer have to do with a deadly virus, you may have wondered. Nothing, we later learned. Thank goodness, right? Because those subtle hints of barley and hops are something special. 

Corona means crown. The virus was named corona because of the crown-like spikes on its surfaces.

Coronavirus itself refers to a whole group of viruses. This is why when this new bugger was first identified, it was referred to as a ‘novel strain of the coronavirus family,’ and later, simply: “the novel Coronavirus”. It’s the writer’s way of saying this is new, and differentiating from other coronaviruses.

Different types of coronaviruses existed over time. They were first identified in the 1960s and as time changed, the virus changed too.

The science and medical guys had to give it a scientific name to make sure they know what they’re dealing with, and for future reference. 

So, now we have what people are calling Covid-19.  

And where does that come from?

  • CO – for corona
  • VI – for virus 
  • D – for disease 
  • 19 – for 2019 – the year it originated 

Pretty original, right?

What’s the difference between epidemic and pandemic? 

An epidemic is a spread of a disease at a fast rate and is often something that no one anticipated. 

Much like Covid-19 in its early stages. 

A pandemic is an epidemic on a higher level. A pandemic spreads across countries and borders and spreads much faster than an epidemic. A pandemic affects the whole world, as Covid-19  is doing now. 

Basically, a pandemic is more severe or deadly than an epidemic. 

Social-distancing vs quarantine? 

Now you’re getting to the interesting stuff and that’s where our infographic kicks in. Call it your COVID-19 cheat sheet, and refer to it whenever you feel confused. 

You’re welcome.