New Delhi: The year 2020 has been difficult for all of us. With the advent of COVID-19, people across the globe have gone through social, economic, and mental changes, along with linguistic during the not so pleasant year. However, it won’t be wrong to say that this period has been successful in introducing us to many new words. Also Read - Every Second Person in Delhi Infected With COVID-19, Latest Sero-survey Shows Signs of Herd Immunity
The COVID-19 era has been successful in giving a new shape to our lives as well as to our vocabulary. While struggling with the ongoing pandemic, people have observed an exponential rise in usage of some words which are specifically related to the novel coronavirus disease. And, as the spread of this disease continued to remain dominant in our lives, we can now confidently say it has successfully ushered in a new vocabulary to the general populace. Also Read - COVID-19 Warnings on Twitter Spread Well Before Pandemic Outbreak
The flurry of words that have made entry to our new vocabulary comprises of terms mostly from the fields of medicine, epidemiology, acronyms, and also various other words to express the societal imperatives of imposed isolation and distancing. Also Read - Coronavirus in Kids: More Than One-Third COVID Kids Show no Symptoms
Here’s a list of 10 words that largely define the COVID-19 era and were introduced to us during this period:
1. Lockdown: The Collins Dictionary declared ‘lockdown’ as the most used word of the year for 2020. The dictionary defines it as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”. It was largely used to describe the restrictions imposed in countries across the globe to prevent the spread of infection from one person to another and also to protect ourselves and others. During the lockdown, people were not allowed to step out of the house except for buying necessities, reducing the number of trips outside, and ideally only a single, healthy family member making the trips when necessary.
2. Pandemic: The famous American dictionary, Merriam-Webster had announced ‘pandemic’ as its word of the year 2020. The word ‘pandemic’ has roots in Latin and the Greek ‘pandēmos’, meaning “common, public.” Breaking it down further, “pan” means “all” and “demos” means “people.” This word is used to describe the illness which affects a very large population, having spread from a community to several countries across the globe. The word took on urgent specificity this year after the coronavirus epidemic was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 11. The word started to trend up when the first US deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.
3. Quarantine: Cambridge Dictionary announced their Word of the Year for 2020 as ‘quarantine’ as it was one of the most searched words in their dictionary. This word has a similar meaning to isolation and has been widely used throughout the year. But unlike isolation, quarantine involves separating and restricting the movements of people who were exposed to the contagious disease to see if they become sick. Quarantine was imposed on someone who was exposed to COVID-19 to avoid the spread of the disease to others if they get sick. Many countries including India have put in place quarantine facilities to monitor entrants into their territories.
4. Asymptomatic: This word was used to refer to the silent careers of the COVID-19 disease someone who is infected but does not present any kind of symptoms. In the case of COVID-19, an asymptomatic person will not show any signs of fever, dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and body aches at the time of testing positive for the virus but some of these individuals may be “presymptomatic” and will develop symptoms over the next few days. The main reason this word was largely used was because people were worried that individuals might be able to pass along the virus when they don’t have symptoms or know that they are sick, which would be termed as ‘asymptomatic transmission’ of the disease
5. Comorbidity: This word is largely a medical condition that increases a person’s risk of becoming very sick if they develop COVID-19. A person is said to have comorbidity when he/she has more than one illness or health disorder which includes conditions like chronic kidney disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), obesity, serious heart conditions, and type 2 diabetes. Other conditions that may up someone’s risk of severe COVID-19 disease include asthma, hypertension, compromised immune systems, smoking, and type 1 diabetes. As per reports, over 48% of the patients who passed away after the treatment during the COVID-19 had underlying comorbidities, said doctors around the world in their findings.
6. Containment zone: Another commonly used term during the COVID-19 pandemic is ‘containment zone’ to describe a geographical zone with limited access in or out to contain an outbreak. The term was used for the word ‘containment’ which means an act or policy of limiting the expansion or spread of a contagious disease or a natural disaster. Given the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the governments took several measures to block the transmission of the virus, and among these steps was the demarcation of an area as red, orange, green, or containment zone, based on the severity of the virus spread in that area. These containment zones were identified by the Rapid Response Team (RRT) and created to map the local transmission of the disease and prevent the contagion from spreading.
7. PPE: A Personal protective equipment (PPE), is a specialised clothing item used as a safeguard against health hazards including exposure to infectious diseases through physical contact or airborne particles. PPE is designed to protect parts of the body typically exposed in normal attire, including the nose, mouth, eyes, hands, and feet. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed gloves, medical masks, goggles, face shields, gowns, respirators, and aprons as parts of the personal protective equipment. PPE is usually intended to be worn by health-care workers or anyone else who may be in close contact with a COVID-19 patient to protect themselves and prevent transmission of the virus.
8. WFH: This is an acronym for “working from home” or “work from home” which describes work being done remotely, instead of at an office. This concept was popularised due to the advent of the COVID-19 and was yet another measure that was adopted by a majority of the organisations because of the ongoing pandemic so that their employees can stay indoors and work in the safe environment of their homes. WFH is believed to be the new normal of the present world as many companies have offered this flexibility to their employees even post Covid.
9. Social-distancing: This is yet another important term that was commonly used as a safety measure during the COVID-19 era. This term was first used in 1957 and refers to the act of remaining physically apart to stem transmission of any infection and in this case, it is COVID-19. As per advisory by the government, social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid or decrease contact between those who are infected and those who are not, to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to a decrease in spread, morbidity, and mortality due to the disease. Social distancing can include a move to remote work, the cancellation of events, and remaining at least six feet away from other individuals.
10. Sanitiser/Hand sanitiser: This is a substance or product that is used to reduce or eliminate germs. This term started a trend after the WHO guidelines on coronavirus mentioned that washing of hands and regularly using hand sanitiser are important steps for preventing COVID-19. The public was advised to wash their hands with soap for about 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub or sanitiser.