The COVID-19 terms you might still be getting wrong: Community spread or transmission

The pandemic has introduced a whole new set of words into our everyday language, some of which were rarely previously used anywhere outside academic and medical settings, let alone in headlines and conversations.

Here we try to find clarity over the terms most often misused.

Community spread or transmission, refers to how the virus moves within a population where a specific source cannot be identified, and people don’t know exactly where and when they got infected as they didn’t get in contact with a sick person.

An increase in community spread means there’s much more of the virus circulating within the community, and gatherings are risky.

Transmission is used to explain how the virus spreads from person to person, through contact or droplets. In this case, it is possible to trace back the transmission chain to the origin of the infection.

These conditions are often present in a cluster – small outbreaks of COVID-19 specific to a certain time and place.

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