Essential Spanish Phrases for COVID-19-Related Scenarios and Emergencies
My Daily Spanish
Shares

Essential COVID-19 Spanish Vocabulary to Help You in the Pandemic

Wherever in the world you’re reading this from, we’ve had a collectively unusual experience over the past several months. So today we’re having a break from grammar and looking at some vocabulary that should be useful in these weird COVID times.

Spanish words being used during a pandemic

It’s not often we’re faced with pandemics like the one we’re going through right now. Here’s some vocab that might come in handy!

la pandemiapandemic (noun)
pandémico/apandemic (adjective)
la epidemiaepidemic
el broteoutbreak
detener la propagación de gérmenesto stop/reduce the spread of germs
la infeccióninfection
los infectadospeople infected
contagioso/acontagious
infeccioso/ainfectious
el/la portador/acarrier
vulnerablevulnerable
de (alto) riesgohigh-risk
protegerto protect
el virusvirus
el coronaviruscoronavirus
el/la* COVID-19COVID-19
la evidenciaevidence
las pruebas
los análisis
tests
hacer un test
hacer una prueba
to test
la curacure
la investigaciónresearch
los ensayos clínicosclinical trials
el tratamientotreatment
la vacunavaccine
el/la científico/ascientist
la enfermedadillness
las muertesdeaths/fatalities
el distanciamiento socialsocial distancing
la reunión socialsocial gathering
la cuarentenaquarantine/lockdown
los espacios cerradosenclosed spaces
2 metros2 meters/6 feet
mantener una distanciato maintain a distance
la mascarillamask
el cubrebocas (used in Mexico)face covering
la higienehygiene/cleanliness
la inmunidadimmunity
la inmunidad de grupoherd immunity
la casahousehold
la burbujabubble

*You might see “COVID-19” used as masculine sometimes and feminine sometimes. The gender in this case is a little complicated, as it’s influenced by the fact that it’s a new and medical term borrowed from English, which itself comes from a bunch of other words smooshed together (“CO” from “corona,” “VI” from “virus,” “D” from “disease,” and “19” from “2019”)!

Some example dialogue and sentences:

Maria: Ha habido un brote de COVID-19. Se trata de una pandemia. 

(There has been an outbreak of COVID-19. It is a pandemic.)

Carmen: Todo eso me pone ansioso. 

(All of this is making me anxious.)

Maria: Los científicos van investigando el virus y haciendo ensayos clínicos.

(The scientists are researching the virus and doing clinical trials.)

Carmen: Espero que logren crear una vacuna o encontrar una cura pronto.

(“I hope they manage to create a vaccine or find a cure soon.”)

Maria: Yo también. Pero no te olvides que tampoco es cosa mala estar un poco ansioso. 

(Me too. But don’t forget that it’s okay to be a little anxious.)

Carmen: En algunos países, es obligatorio llevar una mascarilla en ciertos lugares públicos. En otros países, se enfocan en el distanciamiento social. 

(In some countries, it’s obligatory to wear a face mask in certain public places. In other countries, they’re focusing on social distancing.)

Spanish Medical Terms Related to COVID-19

Let’s get scientific!

la saludhealth
la salud físicaphysical health
la salud mentalmental health
padecer deto suffer from
médico/a
medicinal
clínico/a
medical
el síntomasymptom
presentar síntomas
mostrar síntomas
to display symptoms
la toscough
la fiebrefever
la pérdida deloss of
el sentido del gustosense of taste
el sentido del olfatosense of smell
respirarto breathe
Me cuesta respirar.I’m struggling to breathe.
los pulmoneslungs
la pulmonía
la neumonía
pneumonia
condición de salud subyacenteunderlying health conditions
vulnerablevulnerable
el respirador
el ventilador mecánico
ventilator
intubarto intubate
la muestra
el frotis
swab
la gargantathroat
la nariznose
la muestra de salivasaliva sample
la vacunavaccine
los anticuerposantibodies
la drogadrug
el medicamentomedication

Sample dialogue:

Ana: ¿Quieres ir al parque?

(Do you want to go to the park?)

Jaime: Prefiero no ir a lugares con mucha gente. Padezco de muchas enfermedades, así que soy vulnerable.

“I’d rather not go to places with lots of people. I suffer from lots of illnesses, so I’m vulnerable.”

Ana: El COVID-19 no es serio. Mi hermana lo pilló y casi no tuvo síntomas.

(COVID-19 isn’t serious. My sister caught it and hardly had symptoms.)

Jaime: Sí que puede ser serio. Depende de la persona. Mi padre lo contrajo y lo intubaron. Tuvo que respirar con un ventilador mecánico durante unos días.

(Yes, it can be serious. It depends on the person. My father caught it and was intubated. He had to breathe via a ventilator for days.)

Making sense of the news

It’s pretty difficult to look at/listen to the news nowadays without seeing/hearing something about COVID-19. It can feel overwhelming at times, and even more so if you’re watching/reading/listening to the news in a different language!

We’re giving you a list of some Spanish terms you might come across in the news. Hopefully this makes it at least a little bit less daunting.

la suma de infectadostotal number infected
la tasa de infeccióninfection rate
número R (número reproductivo)R number (reproduction number)
la tasa de mortalidaddeath rate
el aislamiento preventivoshielding/preventive isolation
la cuarentenaquarantine/lockdown
tomar medidasto take measures
las nuevas reglas new rules
la precauciónprecaution
Fase 0, 1, 2, etc.Phase 1, 2, etc. (System of easing lockdown in Spain)
las políticas gubernamentalesgovernmental policies
secretaría de salud/ministro de saludhealth secretary/health minister
el gobiernogovernment
el/la asesor/a científico/ascientific adviser
la OMS (La Organización Mundial de la Salud)WHO (World Health Organization)
el SNS (Servicio Nacional de Salud)NHS (National Health Service—health system in the UK)
la tendencia mundialglobal trend
la conferencia de prensa
la rueda de prensa
press conference
la sesión informativa diariadaily briefing
el asesoramiento científicoscientific advice

Some example sentences you’ll likely find in the news:

  • Las reglas varían según el país. Los gobiernos diferentes están tomando medidas diferentes para detener la propagación del COVID. The rules vary depending on the country. Different governments are taking different measures to slow the spread of COVID.
  • La tendencia mundial está prometedora. Sin embargo, la OMS sigue avisando que se tome las precauciones necesarias. The global trend looks promising. However, the WHO is still recommending that the necessary precautions are taken.
  • La sesión informativa diaria está guiada por el asesoramiento científico. The daily briefing is guided by scientific advice.

Spanish Phrases for requesting assistance in COVID-related emergencies

Some people experience only mild symptoms with COVID, but for others, it can be more serious. Here’s how to get help in an emergency.

el/la médico/adoctor
la citaappointment
el/la enfermero/anurse
el/la policíapolice officer
la ambulanciaambulance
¡Socorro!
¡Ayuda!
¡Ayúdenme!
SOS!
Help!
Llama al hospital, por favor.Call the hospital, please.
112 (in Spain and much of Europe)
911 (in much of Latin America)
911/999
urgencias
la sala de urgencias
ER/A&E
la emergencia
la urgencia
la crisis
emergency
Es urgente.It’s urgent.
la UCI (Unidad de Cuidados Intensivos)ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
el hospitalhospital
¿Dónde está el hospital?Where is the hospital?

* If you’re already on the phone to your doctor’s office, then it’s obvious that the “cita” you want is a medical appointment. But “cita” can also mean “date,” so in some situations (e.g. telling your friend you had a “cita por teléfono”), you’ll need to make clear whether you’re talking about a medical telephone appointment or a modern romantic date!

Here’s a short dialogue as an example:

Ana: Necesito una cita con el médico.

(I need an appointment with the doctor.)

Hospital worker: Si tiene síntomas, no venga al consultorio

(If you have symptoms, don’t come to the clinic.)

How to Report a COVID-19  incident in Spanish

If you have or suspect a case of COVID, you may have to let someone know, whether it’s to seek medical help, update your family, or just cancel your coffee plans!

Ha pasado … .… has happened.
¿Desde cuándo tiene síntomas?How long has s/he had symptoms?
¿Cuáles síntomas tiene?What symptoms does s/he have?
dar positivo para COVIDto test positive for COVID
No puedo venir al trabajo.I can’t come to work.
Papá, no deberías visitarme este fin de semana. Tengo una tos.Dad, you shouldn’t visit me this weekend. I have a cough.
Perdona, ¡tengo que cancelar nuestra cita!Sorry, I have to cancel our date!
el autoaislamientoself-isolation
Mis abuelos van aislándose.My grandparents are shielding.

Spanish phrases for calling the hospital to inquire

If you need to call the hospital to ask after someone, here are some phrases that could be useful.

el hospitalhospital
la recepciónreception
el/la recepcionistareceptionist
el número de teléfonophone number
llamarto call
preguntar por alguiento ask after someone
el/la pacientepatient
ser ingresado/ato be admitted
la salaward
las horas de visitavisiting hours
el/la visitantevisitor

Example dialogue:

Jaime: Buenos días, llamo para preguntar por mi abuelo. Fue ingresado anoche con síntomas del COVID pero no sé en cuál sala estará. Las horas de visita, ¿cuáles son?

(Good afternoon, I’m calling to ask after my granddad. He was admitted last night with COVID symptoms but I don’t know which ward he’d be in. What are the visiting hours?)

Hospital worker: Todavía no se puede visitar a los pacientes de COVID. Es demasiado peligroso. Puedo darle el número de teléfono de la sala de COVID para que hable con los médicos.

(You can’t visit COVID patients yet. It’s too dangerous. I can give you the phone number for the COVID ward so you can speak to the doctors.)

Spanish Phrases related to COVID-19 Quarantine

el EPP (equipo de protección personal)PPE (personal protective equipment)
la mascarillamask
la máscara quirúrgica surgical mask
los guantesgloves
gafas de proteccióngoggles
el delantal desechabledisposable apron
Al entrar en la zona de cuarentena, es imprescindible llevar el EPP.On entering the quarantine zone, it’s essential to be wearing PPE.
PROHIBIDO EL PASO
NO PASAR
NO ENTRAR
NO ENTRY
entrarto enter
¿Puedo entrar?May I come in?
salirto leave
una persona a la vezone person at a time
limpiarto clean
esterilizarto sterilize
desinfectarto disinfect
descontaminarto decontaminate
Al salir de la zona, hay que desinfectar todo.On leaving the zone, everything must be disinfected.
lavarse los manosto wash one’s hands
el aguawater
el jabónsoap
el gel desinfectantehand gel
no tocar nadato not touch anything
no tocarse la carato not touch one’s face
tener cuidadoto be careful

Here’s an example conversation:

Miguel: Papá, quiero ver a Abuela. (Daddy, I want to see Grandma.)

 (Daddy, I want to see Grandma.)

Father: Hijo, eres demasiado joven para entrar en la zona de cuarentena conmigo, pero aun así hay que tener cuidado por el hospital. Lávate los manos frecuentemente con agua y jabón, e intenta no tocarte la cara. Trae una botella de gel desinfectante en tu mochila.

(Son, you’re too young to go into the quarantine zone with me, but even so, you have to be careful around the hospital. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and try not to touch your face. Take a bottle of hand gel in your backpack.)

Stay safe!

We hope this article has given you some of the tools you might need when communicating about COVID in Spanish. ¡Hasta la proxima! Until next time, let’s take care of each other and ourselves!

About the Author Annabel Beilby

Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.

Leave a Comment: