IELTS Coronavirus(Covid-19) Vocabulary, Pronunciation

Vocabulary with pronunciation audios relating to coronavirus Covid-19. The aim is to help you develop your English language on an issue that is affecting all our lives at the present moment. These keywords will help you communicate and understand official information more easily. The audios will help you with pronunciation as some of the words are not easy to say correctly. This page is for non-native English speakers.

Vocabulary Practice: After all the words lists below, you will find an exercise to test your understanding of the vocabulary. Let me know if you want more practice lessons for this vocab.

High Level Coronavirus Vocabulary & Pronunciation

The list of words below are either high level words or words that are difficult to pronounce. Read the list and definitions first. After that, listen to the audio to learn the pronunciation.

A-N Word List

  1. acute respiratory problems
    • acute – quickly becomes severe
    • respiratory problems = breathing difficulties
  2. alcohol based antimicrobial hand sanitiser
    • antimicrobial = kills bacteria and microorganisms.
    • hand sanitiser = a hygienic cleaner for the hands
  3. altruism (n) / altruistic (adj)
    • selfless concern for the welfare of others – without agenda.
  4. asthma
    • a respiratory condition due to inflammation of the air passages in the lungs.
    • (pron – silent “th”)
  5. contact tracing
    • tracking who might have had contact with an infected person.
  6. contagious
    • spread of a disease through direct or indirect contact with other people.
    • this can also be used in reference to emotions: “The feeling was contagious as the excitement spread.”
  7. to contain an outbreak
    • to control the spread of an illness
  8. to contaminate
    • to infect
  9. curfew
    •  a specific time when people must stay indoors
  10. epicentre
    • this word usually relates to earthquakes – the point on the surface which is the focus of the earthquake.
    • in terms of Covid-19, it is being used to describe the area where the virus is most active.
  11. fomite / fomites
    • an object or objects that becomes contaminated with infected organisms
    • such objects can transmit illness from one person to another
    • examples of such surfaces: kitchen surfaces, toys, bathroom surfaces, mobile phones etc
    • To practise good hygiene relating to the coronavirus, we must disinfect surfaces, including our smart phones, regularly. Soft surfaces, such as children’s toys, can be washed.
    • (pron = fomites has more than one type of pronunciation)
  12. herd immunity
    •  when a significant proportion of the population are immune to a disease either through a vaccine or by having naturally built up immunity by having had the disease and recovered from it.
  13. incubation period
    • the time between exposure to an illness and when the symptoms start to become apparent. 
  14. misinformation
    • false or inaccurate information 
    • this is a common problem online
    • always take your advice about Covid-19 from official sources
    • this is also the case with IELTS – misinformation online confuses people about the test
  15. a new strain
    • new strain = a genetic variant or subtype
    • in this case, Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus
    • it is sometimes referred to the novel coronavirus (new coronavirus not previously known)

Audio A-N Word List

P-Z Word List Coronavirus 

  1. pandemic
    • a global outbreak of a disease
  2. patient zero
    • the first person to contract the disease (relating to outbreaks)
  3. persistent cough
    • persistent = doesn’t go away / continuing
    • (pron cough = kof)
  4. pneumonia
    • a form of acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. See this page for details: NHS UK Pneumonia and WHO Pneumonia
    • severe cases of coronavirus Covid-19 can develop pneumonia
    • (pron = silent “p” at the beginning of the word)
  5. precautionary measures
    • steps taken in order to be safe
  6. to ramp up
    •  increase
    • this is usually used in spoken English rather than formal writing
  7. respiratory droplets
    •  small drops when someone exhales
    • one way the novel coronavirus is spread is by droplets from an infected person breathing, coughing or sneezing being inhaled by someone else in close proximity
  8. respiratory problems
    •  breathing problems
  9. quarantine
    • a time when someone who has been potentially exposed to an illness is put in isolation away from others to prevent the spread of a disease
  10. a state of emergency
    • a time of danger when the government introduces temporary rules to deal with a situation
  11. stockpiling
    • collecting large amounts of an item or items for future use, often in an emergency
    • at present some people are stockpiling food in panic which is causing a shortage of some items
  12. stringent
    •  strict
    • stringent measures 
  13. super-spreader
    •  a person who transmits infections more than other people do
  14. surface transmission
    • when an disease or bacteria is spread through contact with contaminated surfaces
    • see “fomite”
  15. transmission rate
    •  the speed at which a disease is spread 
    • this can also be used in reference to data
  16. vaccine
    1. a substance that stimulates the production of antibodies in a person to give them immunity from a disease
  17. ventilators
    • a machine that provides artificial respiration for a person
    • at present governments around the world are urging for an increased production of ventilators to help support those patients who are severely affected with Covid-19 and who have acute respiratory problems
  18. vigorous action
    • strong action
  19. vulnerable person
    • vulnerable = easily physically hurt
    • this can also apply to those who are at risk emotionally or mentally as well
    • relating to Covid-19, it means people with certain medical conditions or of a particular age who are more likely to have severe symptoms or die when infected
    • the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) have a list on this page: CDC at risk groups  relating to the coronavirus
    • when the government asks people to stay at home, it is not only to protect themselves but also to protect the vulnerable who are more at risk of this illness 
  20. wheezing
    •  making a rough noise when breathing due to breathing difficulties
    • (pron = the “h” is silent)
  21. zoonotic
    •  relating to a disease that is transmitted between animal and people

Audio P-Z Word List

More Useful Vocabulary

The words below are more commonly known which is why I have not put a definition with them. If you are in doubt, check in your dictionary. I have put an audio with these words so that you can check if you are pronouncing them correctly.

  1. acceleration phase
  2. anxiety
  3. to catch a disease
  4. community spread
  5. death toll
  6. to disinfect
  7. face mask
  8. to be hospitalised
  9. large gatherings
  10. lockdown
  11. physical distancing
  12. precautions
  13. protective clothing
  14. to self-isolate
  15. severity
  16. social distancing
  17. symptoms
  18. utmost (adj & noun

Audio For Above List


  1. In some countries, governments advise that the entire family should (a)……………. if just one member experiences symptoms such as a (b)……………….. cough, (c) ………………problems or a fever.
  2. Avoiding large gatherings and practising social (a)…………………….. can help reduce the (b)…………………. rate of the virus.
  3. When you seek information regarding Covid-19, always go to official sources and be careful of ………………. spread online.
  4. Many countries are ……………………. their efforts to try to contain the spread of this virus.
  5. As yet, there is still not enough known about the ………………………….. of the virus and precisely how long it survives on cardboard or plastic.
  6. People with pre-existing medical conditions that affect their breathing, such as ………….., should take extra precautionary measures.
  7. Covid-19 was declared a ……………..  by the WHO on March 11th 2020.
  8. In the current situation, we are likely to see good examples of ……………. behaviour as neighbour helps neighbour.
  9. Most governments around the world are doing their ………….. to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

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