Japanese Vocabulary for Talking about the Coronavirus

Source: Gaijin Pot

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.

English Romaji Japanese
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
Infected person Kansensha 感染者
Death toll Shishasuu 死者数
Mortality rate Chishiritsu 致死率
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.

English Romaji Japanese
RT-PCR test PCR kensa PCR検査
Close contact (person) Noukou sesshokusha 濃厚接触者
Travel history tokoureki 渡航歴
Tested positive yousei 陽性
Tested negative insei 陰性
Immunity meneki 免疫
Mild case keishou 軽症
Serious case jyuushou 重症

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.

English Romaji Japanese
Postponed enki 延期
Event cancelled ibento chuushi イベント中止
Spectator-free mukankyaku 無観客
Undecided mitei 未定

Of course, that is just at the local level. As Abe and the government continue to moderate its response, the following words may become …continue reading