Social Distancing, Containment And Pandemic – What Do They All Mean?

As the coronavirus continues to dominate headlines around the world, here is a glossary of common words and terms used in connection with the disease.


Coronaviruses: A group of viruses that causes a variety of illnesses, including the common cold and more serious respiratory conditions.

– Covid-19: The name of the respiratory illness caused by the latest type of coronavirus. This particular type was identified in Wuhan City, China, in January 2020.

– Self-isolation: The act of remaining in your own home and avoiding contact with other people as much as possible to reduce the spread of the virus.

– Social distancing: Action taken to mitigate the spread of the disease by reducing people’s contact with each other.

Examples include closing schools, encouraging staff to work from home and reducing the number of large-scale public gatherings.

– Community transmission: When a person contracts the virus despite not having travelled to an affected area such as China, or not being in contact with someone known to have the disease.

– Pandemic: A worldwide spread of a new disease.

– Epidemic: The increase in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in a population in a geographical area.


– Endemic: The constant presence of a disease in a population within a certain area.

– Outbreak: The number of disease cases that exceed what is normally expected.

– Containment phase: Steps introduced to prevent the virus from spreading for as long as possible, such as detecting early cases and trying to establish who the infected person has been in contact with.

 Delay phase: Measures introduced to reduce the peak impact of the virus and slow its spread, such restrictions on public gatherings.

– Mitigation phase: Providing hospitals with the support they need to maintain essential services as the virus spreads, and help those who are ill in the community to reduce the overall impact of the disease on society.

– Category 1 traveller: People who should self-isolate, regardless of showing any symptoms, if they have travelled to the Hubei Province in China, Iran, northern Italy, or Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea.

– Category 2 traveller: Travellers returning from countries including Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.


Useful information

  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department – if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

(Source – Irish Examiner – Viewpoint – Press Association – 12/03/2020)



15 facts about the virus that has brought the country to a standstill.

December 1, 2019

The first case of coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China, according to a study published in The Lancet, more than 40 confirmed cases were admitted to Wuhan in the month of December.

Of these cases, 27 had been to the South China Seafood Market, while 14 had no exposure to same. It is not clear if these cases were community exposures. (The Lancet and Beijing News)

January 9

The first confirmed death relating to Covid-19 was recorded in Wuhan China. Outside of Asia, the first fatality was in Paris on February 15. (New York Times)

January 31

The first cases of Covid-19 arrive in the EU with two Chinese tourists testing positive for the coronavirus in Rome, Italy.

The Italian government suspended all flights to and from China and declared a state of emergency. (


February 26

Ireland’s match against Italy in the Six Nations Championship is postponed following the outbreak in northern Italy.

Eyes now turn to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan with speculation mounting as to whether the games will go ahead or be postponed until later in the year. (BBC & Irish Examiner)

February 29

Ireland confirms its first case of the Covid-19 coronavirus. A male is the east of the country who recently travelled in an affected area of Northern Italy. (Irish Examiner)

March 5

The first case of community transmission of the virus is discovered in Ireland; a male in Cork University Hospital with no history of travelling to affected areas.

March 9

All St Patrick’s Day parades across Ireland are cancelled. Despite a number of towns postponing events, Cork became the first Irish city to cancel its St Patrick’s Day festival followed by Dublin a few hours later. (Irish Examiner)


The number of symptoms people need to be aware of.

  1. Coughing

  2. Shortness of breath

  3. Difficulties breathing

  4. Fever (high temperature)

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, phone your GP or local emergency department without delay. Do not go to your GP or ED. Avoid contact with other people by self-isolating. If you do not have a GP, phone 112 or 999. (HSE)


The incubation period of Covid-19 is as short as two days or as long as two weeks. The incubation period is the time between first exposure and the first symptoms appearing. The current average is five days. (Harvard Medical)


People who have shared the same room with a confirmed Covid -19 case or have been within 2 meters of the person for more than 15 minutes are at high risk of infection. High-risk contacts may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days while monitoring for symptoms.

(European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)


The recommended time you should wash your hands. Cleaning your hands is one of the key prevention methods when it comes to the spread of coronavirus. Using soap and water make sure you clean your hands regularly and thoroughly. Also, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. (HSE).


According to the WHO, “globally about 3.4% of reported Covid-19 cases have died”. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.

(World Health Organisation)



The age group with the highest mortality rate. According to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control, the mortality rate for people aged over 80, with preexisting health problems, is 14%. In comparison, between the ages of 10 and 49, the mortality rate is 0.2%. The scale increases with age. (CCDC)


The government has put together a €3bn package in an effort to tackle the spread of the coronavirus in Ireland. The measures include  €2.4bn for workers impacted by Covid-19. (Irish Examiner)


The number of units of hand sanitiser a Cork-based manufacturer intends to deliver per week. Cosmetic Creations launched the new Airmedica product last week and plans to produce up to 2.5 million units. The company says up to 40% of its supply has already been ordered. (

(Source – Irish Examiner – Lifestyle – Greg Murphy – 13/03/2020)



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