We’ve been talking about some seriously grim stuff of late – How the Coronavirus has brought the world to a grinding halt, how the pandemic is affecting us financially, and how isolation is challenging us psychologically.

But there’s no denying the only fact that keeps us going – The hope of seeing better days in the future, when Covid-19 becomes a distant memory.

So our team decided to keep it light this time! We’ve had some interesting additions to our vocabulary these past few weeks. Below, we take a look at the new terms and phrases that have become the buzzwords amidst this crisis…

Social distancing

If there’s one term that we’re all going to remember long after this pandemic is over, it’s got to be ‘social distancing’. Essentially, social distancing puts physical space between people. It limits the spread of the virus by avoiding close physical contact with others.

However, this term has drawn in some criticism, since it challenges our social fabric. After all, there’s no need to distance yourself socially from others, if you can socialize virtually! So now, many people and organizations around the world are replacing social distancing with the term ‘physical distancing’.

Self-isolation / Self-quarantine

Right on the heels of social distancing, are the terms self-isolation and self-quarantine. Self-isolation basically means isolating yourself in your home (or even in a separate room within it) if you’re unwell or are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Self-quarantine, on the other hand, means isolating yourself at home for a period of 14 days if you have recently traveled or have been exposed to a confirmed Covid-19 positive individual. Both practices are aimed at stopping the spread of the virus from a confirmed or suspected Covid-infected individual to others.


Researchers believe that a big percentage (some say between 25% to 50%) of Covid-19 carriers may be ‘asymptomatic’ – Meaning they do not show any of the typical symptoms of the disease, such as coughing, fever and tiredness. That’s part of the reason why it has been so difficult to contain the spread of the virus, with infected individuals roaming about freely, without any suspicion that they have contracted the virus. What this does though, is put countless other vulnerable people at a huge health risk. That’s exactly why people (even seemingly healthy ones) are being asked to stay at home as much as possible, and wear masks when stepping outside.

Contact tracing

Here’s an imaginary case to explain this term better – Rob flew into the country one week back. He goes about his life as usual, meeting colleagues and a few friends. But he’s just started feeling unwell, and visits a hospital to take a Covid-19 test. He tests positive, and now has to give health officials a list of who he’s come in contact with since he landed in the UAE. This last part is what we call ‘contact tracing’. Once the patient has been able to recall the individuals he has come in close contact with, since the presumed start of the infection, these people are contacted by health officials and asked to self-isolate and watch out for symptoms.

Community transmission

Remember how the two huge communities within Dubai’s Deira district were cordoned off and placed under a complete lockdown? That was basically done to stop the ongoing ‘community transmission’ of the disease within these highly populated areas, from spreading elsewhere. Community transmission happens when there’s no known source of the spread of the virus, making contact tracing either too difficult or impossible.

Another example of how countries are dealing with community transmission includes India’s case, where the government is splitting the country into red, orange and green zones based on the severity of the spread of infection, and then imposing different grades of lockdown within these regions.

Flatten the curve

‘Flattening the curve’ has become the mantra of governments and world leaders everywhere. To flatten the curve, means to stagger and spread the number of new Covid-19 cases so health services aren’t overwhelmed and people have better access to adequate and timely healthcare. The curve basically refers to the projected number of new cases over a given period of time. The curve can be flattened by limiting the spread of the Coronavirus, through lockdowns, social distancing, self-isolation and wearing masks and gloves when stepping out.

Herd immunity

Did you know that Sweden has been dealing with the pandemic in a rather unique way? Restaurants, schools and public places like playgrounds have remained open at a time when many other European countries have placed their residents under a complete lockdown. Sweden’s strategy to fight the Coronavirus involves its entire population reaching ‘herd immunity’ against the disease.

So what does this term even mean? Herd immunity is reached when a large portion of the population (say 70% to 90%) becomes immune to an infectious disease, in this case, Covid-19. Since there’s no vaccination yet, the only way people can become immune is by being infected and then successfully recovering. However, one of the biggest hurdles to this strategy is a lack of clarity on whether people can contract the virus again or not.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list!