The coronavirus is the topic on everyone’s—carefully covered by a mask—lips at the moment. Confined at home, working remotely, or braving the train while looking cautiously at your fellow passengers like a cowboy ready to draw (or in this case run away) at the slightest sound can make us feel even farther away from our family and friends back home than usual.
In a foreign country, the frustration of not understanding the situation can be especially scary as things are moving at a dizzying pace. It is important to learn some COVID-19 vocabulary so that you can have your say about what’s happening in the world.
Coronavirus vocabulary for watching the news
Like many countries, Japanese people are suddenly seeing relatively uncommon words flash over their screens and concepts like social distancing become buzzwords. Here are some of the trickier phrases that you will now regularly hear or see.
|Novel Coronavirus||Shingata korona uirusu||新型コロナウイルス|
|‘New type of pneumonia’ aka COVID-19||Shingata haien||新型肺炎|
|Infection spread||Kansen kakudai||感染拡大|
|Infection cluster||Kansen kurasutaa||感染クラスター|
|Infection route||Kansen keiro||感染経路|
Medical terms related to the coronavirus
For those coming into the country or who unfortunately took even a brief trip overseas, you may be asked to take the PCR (検査), a test that detects specific genetic material within the virus. Here are other words you may hear.
|RT-PCR test||PCR kensa||PCR検査|
|Close contact (person)||Noukou sesshokusha||濃厚接触者|
Canceled events and quarantine
One of the most telltale signs of how seriously Japan is having to take the outbreak was the sight of empty sumo wrestling championships, an unfortunate first in sumo history. No matter what your favorite spectator sport or activity is, it’s worth checking their homepage before heading for the below terms.
|Event cancelled||ibento chuushi||イベント中止|
Of course, that is just at the local level. As Abe and the government continue to moderate its response, the following words may become more common. Hopefully, they will soon go back to being obscure words, but until that time:
|Home confinement/Stay home||Jitaku taiki||自宅待機|
|Self-restraint or self-discipline||jishuku||自粛|
|A request for shutdown||Kyuugyou yousei||休業要請|
|Social distancing||shakai kyori senryaku||社会距離戦略|
|Social distancing||sosharu disutansu||ソーシャルディスタンス|
|Travel ban||Tokou kinshi||渡航禁止|
|Entry restrictions (to a country)||Nyuukoku seigen||入国制限|
|Entry ban (to a country)||Nyuukoku kyohi||入国拒否|
|National school shutdown||Issei kyukou||一斉休校|
Seeing a doctor
We hope you never have to see a doctor in Japan, or anywhere, about COVID-19. Just in case, here are some symptoms (from most to least common) you can discuss with the doctor in the event you do have to see one.
|Difficulty breathing||Kokyuu konnan||呼吸困難|
|Sore throat||Nodo no itami||のどの痛み|
It is also important to report any underlying medical conditions you may have. While most COVID-19 patients make a full recovery, many without hospitalization, the risk of complications increases massively for people with underlying conditions such as the following.
|High blood pressure||kouketsuatsu||高血圧|
It can all seem overwhelming, and if we could snap our fingers and keep 2019 playing forever like that Netflix drama Russian Doll, which I have been binging way too much of, most of us would happily do so.
However, this is the reality that we’re living in. Watching the situation unfold in our home countries, many of us have seen how bad things can get when everything goes crazy. Hopefully, we can bring some of our countries’ best qualities—British stoicism, Italian flair, Brazilian personability, or whatever your country’s most admirable trait is.
Now is the time to show Japan everything that makes you and your nation great, because, in our own diverse ways, we will overcome this.