Glossary and definitions: COVID-19 terminology


Once you have been fully vaccinated, you should get a third dose of the vaccine, known as a booster.


A cluster occurs when a group of people from the same area contract COVID-19 from each other, such as a school or workplace.

COVID-19 / Coronavirus

COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, is a respiratory disease caused by a virus.

COVID treatments

You can treat COVID-19 symptoms by taking pain relief for headaches or muscle aches and pains. Hospitals provide further treatment for those who are seriously ill with COVID-19.

Community care provider

Community care providers offer health and support services to people who need special care so they can live safely and independently.

Community transmission

Community transmission happens when people in the same community spread COVID-19 to each other.

Contact tracing

From 31 December 2021, Queensland Health will only notify of major outbreak venues or super-spreader events in Queensland.

Health worker

A health worker is anyone who is qualified to care for you if you need medical assistance. This can include a doctor, a nurse or an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker.


Hotspots are places in Australian states or territories other than Queensland, or in safe travel zone countries where health officials have found a lot of people with COVID-19, or places that are at risk of a lot of COVID-19 infections. Hotspots are legally listed so that we can identify people travelling into Queensland from those high-risk areas.


Keeping up good hygiene can help stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Keep a distance of 1.5 meters away from people who don’t live in your household
  • Wear facemasks if you can’t socially distance
  • Clean surfaces and objects, such as tables and smartphones with disinfectant.


Your immune system helps protect your body from diseases. You can help your immune system fight off COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. You can still get COVID-19 even if you’re fully vaccinated, but there’s a much lower chance that you’ll get seriously ill.


Isolation is when people who have COVID-19 must stay away from other people.


Genomic sequencing

If somebody catches COVID-19, scientists can take a sample of the virus to find out where it came from, which helps determine how it spread. This is known as genomic sequencing.

Hospital Admissions Risk Program (HARP)

A Hospital Admissions Risk Program (HARP) aims to prevent people with certain health conditions (such as lung disease) from needing to go to hospital by providing extra support and care.

Immunocompromised / immunosuppressed

People who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed have a weakened immune system. They are at greater risk of getting very sick if they catch COVID-19.

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

An intensive care unit (ICU) is a special ward in a hospital that cares for people who are very unwell and need extra help for certain things, such as breathing.


A pandemic is a disease that spreads all over a country or all over the world.

People at greater risk

Some people have a greater risk of getting sick if they catch COVID-19. This can include people over the age of 70, and people who have health problems such as heart disease, diabetes or a disability.

As COVID-19 is an infectious disease of the respiratory system, people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such asthma are also at greater risk.

Physical distancing / social distancing

Physical distancing, also known as social distancing, can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by reducing contact between people. This can include:

  • keeping a space of 1.5 meters away from others
  • not going to crowded places
  • limiting the number of people at a venue.


Quarantine is when people who have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, or who have come from a COVID-19 hotspot have to stay away from others, even if they are well. This might mean staying at home or in a hotel.


When there is an outbreak of COVID-19, restrictions can help to stop the spread. Restrictions might include:

  • limiting the amount of people who can be in one place at the same time
  • restricting who can travel to and from hotspots, to stop them bringing COVID-19 with them.


A vaccination works by teaching your immune system to recognise a disease and fight it. If you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two doses), you are less likely to get very sick or die from the virus. Vaccines are safe and effective.


A variant is a form of COVID-19 that is different from the original virus. It is normal for a virus to mutate and new variants to emerge over time.