The Italian vocab you need to understand the coronavirus crisis

Struggling to keep up with the latest coronavirus news in Italy? Here are the words you need to know.

The Italian vocab you need to understand the coronavirus crisis
A public health notice in Casalpusterlengo, Lombardy. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The basics

Let's start with an easy one: 'coronavirus' in Italian is simply il coronavirus

The scientific name for the new virus is the same in every language: Covid-19.

VIDEO: Five key questions about the coronavirus answered

epidemia – epidemic 

pandemia – pandemic

emergenza – emergency

trasmissione – transmission

trasmissione secondaria – person-to-person transmission

focolaio – hotspot, site with multiple cases of infection


Here are the words you'll need to understand the latest stats on the outbreak.

positivo – positive

negativo – negative

contagiato – infected

guarito – recovered

morto, deceduto – dead

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: The everyday precautions to take if you're in Italy

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP


ricoverato con sintomi – hospitalized with symptoms

terapia intensiva – intensive care

isolamento domiciliare – self-isolation

quarantena – quarantine


controllo – test

tampone – swab, also used to mean test

misure di contenimento – containment measures


tosse – coughing 

febbre – fever

difficoltà respiratorie – difficulty breathing

For more information about precautions to take against the coronavirus and what to do if you suspect you have it, see our complete guide.

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Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).