The Spanish vocab you need to understand the coronavirus crisis

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The Spanish vocab you need to understand the coronavirus crisis
A football fan wearing a mask in light of the coronavirus outbreak waits for the start of El Clasico on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Struggling to keep up with the latest coronavirus news in Spain? Here are the words you need to know.


The basics

Let's start with an easy one: 'coronavirus' in Spanish is simply el coronavirus.

The scientific name for the new virus is the same in every language: Covid-19 but you will sometimes see it as SARS-CoV-2 especially in official notices from authorities.

Read all the latest here (paywall free) Coronavirus in Spain: How worried should you be?

la epidemia - epidemic

emergencia - emergency

el brote - the outbreak

infección - infection

transmisión - transmission

transmisión secundaria - person-to-person transmission

foco de contagios - hotspot, site with multiple cases of infection


Photo. AFP

Understanding the statistics:

suma de infectados - number of infected

los afectados - those affected

los ingresados - those admitted into hospital

los recuperados - recovered

muerto, fallecido - dead

aislamiento preventivo - preventative isolation

Unidad de Cuidados Intensivos - intensive care unit

situación clínica grave - serious condition

estado crítico - critical state

sintomatología leve - light symptoms

personas asintomáticas - people who have no symptoms (asymptomatic)

VIDEO: Five key questions about the coronavirus answered

Photo. AFP


Those people in Spain who have tested positive for the coronavirus are in isolation either at home or in hospital.

aislamiento preventivo - preventative isolation

aislado en su domicilio - self-isolation

una cuarentena – quarantine

Spain is also carrying out large-scale testing of people with possible symptoms of the virus.

pruebas - tests

positivo – positive

negativo – negative


These are the three symptoms that are associated with the coronavirus:

fiebre - A fever above 38C

Tos - a cough

sensación de falta de aire - shortness of breath.

Gripe: This word is slightly problematic to English speakers because it is used to describe either end of the scale of the most common winter ailment from a bad cold to a full on nasty dose of the flu.  You'll hear it bandied around now as people compare the coronvirus to the flu.

How to stay safe: 

Cubrirse la boca y la nariz con pañuelos desechables - If you sneeze or cough cover your mouth and nose with a disposable hanky (tissue) and then throw it away.

lavarse las manos - wash your hands

mascarilla - protective face masks are now very hard to get hold of in Spain, but the guidance is that only those who are suffering symptoms, or treating someone with symptoms needs to wear them.





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