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Some New Chinese Buzzwords You Must Know - Pandemic Special

Jun.07, 2022

Some New Chinese Buzzwords You Must Know - Pandemic Special


Shanghai has seen its one of the most serious challenges in the spring of 2022. It's been a tough time fighting against the Omicron outbreak. Hopefully we will welcome the victory that we deserve very soon!


Today I would like to share some pandemic related Chinese buzzwords that you have constantly encountered recently.

Let's get started!

1 Different situations of infection


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密切/mìqiè means close and 接触者/jiēchù zhě means the person who contacted. You can tell the word indicates a person if it's with 者 at the end. In context, Chinese People simply say this word in an abbreviated way - "密接/mìjiē". E.g.:


完了,刚才有人给我打电话说我是密接,需要隔离。

Wánle, gāngcái yǒu rén gěi wǒ dǎ diànhuà shuō wǒ shì mìjiē, xūyào gélí.

Crap, someone just called me saying I'm a close contact. I will need to go to quarantine.


If you accidentally become a close contact, there are a few situations occurring next. You might be safe as you test negative, which is the best situation. But you might also become an asymptomatic patient, suspected case or even confirmed case. See how to say these words below.


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无症状/wú zhèngzhuàng - Asymptomatic (无/wú - don't have; 症状/zhèngzhuàng - symptom) literally means "the absence of symptoms".


感染者/gǎnrǎnzhě - person who is infected. The structure of this word is the same as 接触者/jiēchùzhě - person who is a close contact of an infected person.


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"Positive" in terms of the Covid test result, in Chinese is 阳/yáng, which sounds the same as 羊/yáng - sheep in Chinese, so some people use 羊 to refer to those who tested positive. E.g.:


我们小区又出"羊"了。
Wǒmen xiǎoqū yòu chū yáng le.
There is another positive case (sheep) appearing in our compound.

"羊" somehow becomes a frequently used character during this pandemic and people also like using this emoji "O" in their chats talking about the infectious situation in their compound.


2 From Lockdown to Lifting lockdown


Quarantine is probably the most topical term during this spring in Shanghai. If you still don't know how to say "quarantine" in Chinese, try to remember it this time 

The two characters "隔/gé" and "离/lí" both mean separate.


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Lockdown, in Chinese is 封城/fēngchéng. 封城 literally means seal the city. After the situation is well controlled, the lockdown will be lifted which is 解封/jiěfēng in Chinese. 解 means unseal.


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3 The policy & measures in Shanghai


To deal with the outbreak of Omicron, Shanghai government keeps emphasizing two concepts: dynamic zero-case policy and citywide static management.


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动态清零政策 - dynamic zero-case policy is an anti-epidemic policy to reduce the number of transmissions and confirmed cases by investigating the virus, isolating close contacts, and controlling the spreading of the virus from each new confirmed case, along with medical admission.


动态/dòngtài means dynamic which shows that the situation is constantly changing since we don't know when or where the case will pop out.


清零/qīnglíng means clear to zero, which means when one case is found, it will be dealt with immediately.


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全域静态管理 - Citywide static management means that people in the lockdown zones are prohibited from leaving their houses, people in the control zones are prohibited from leaving their units, and all citizens shall not go to public places unless necessary. 静态/jìngtài means quite state.

According to the government, 静态管理 - static management is not the same as 封城 - lockdown. Even though people can't leave their houses, the city is still partly functioning. Airports, highways, train stations are not completely shut down.


4 Cabin hospitals & Hazmat team


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方舱/fāngcāng is a new word in Chinese. It was selected as one of the most popular words of 2020. 方舱 is originally a military term. 方/fāng means square, 舱/cāng is cabin. You can simply understand 方舱医院 like a quarantine center or a temporary hospital.

It's interesting to mention that Noah's Ark in Chinese is 诺亚方舟/Nuòyà Fāngzhōu which literally means Noah's Square Ship. 方舱 - 方舟, it implies people's expectation on this facility.


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Covid hazmat team is called 大白/Dàbái - Big White in Chinese. It sounds cute and catchy to Chinese people because 大白 is actually also the Chinese name of a famous Disney character: the healthcare robot Baymax from the movie "Big Hero 6".


大白 plays an important role in healthcare in the movie and so are the hazmat teams during this outbreak.


5 Shopping in this special time


After this special time, Shanghai people will never complain about stocking up too much food! Yes, we are now talking about 囤货/túnhuò - stockpiling goods!


Over the last few months, stockpiling is somehow becoming a spiritual comfort, making people feel secured.


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Due to the strict traffic restrictions, going to supermarkets or shops individually is basically 'Mission Impossible'. But nothing can stop Shanghai people from shopping to survive, 团购/tuángòu - group purchasing came into being! During the crisis, only large orders can still be planned!

团/tuán means group and 购/gòu means to purchase. So 团购 literally means a group of people order things together. Since there is 团购, a series of derivative words have gradually emerged too, such as 团长/tuánzhǎng - the group leader and of course there are different kinds of groups such as 西瓜团/xīguā tuán - watermelon group,牛奶团/niúnǎi tuán - milk group,卫生纸团/wèishēngzhǐ tuán - tissue group.

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6 New daily routine: Antigen test


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I don't need to explain much about this. Apart from taking 核酸检测/hésuān jiǎncè - nucleic acid test, taking 抗原检测 has also become a part of our new daily routine.


7 Show me your codes!


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码/mǎ means code. 扫码/sǎo mǎ means scan the code. We live on 二维码/èwéimǎ - QR code in China.

After the lockdown gets lifted, apart from 健康码/jiànkāng mǎ, Shanghai will require more codes for daily activities, such as 核酸码/hésuān mǎ for taking nucleic acid test, 场所码/chǎngsuǒ mǎ for entering a certain place.

Let's stay green and stay safe!


8 The THREE zones


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The so-called "three zones" refer to the lockdown zone, the control zone and the precaution zone.

- 防范区 refers to the area where there is no positive infection reported in the past 14 days. The appropriate activities in the area can be conducted, but the gathering of people should be strictly limited.


- 管控区 refers to neighborhoods where no infections were reported in the previous week. Residents are allowed to retrieve food deliveries or take a walk at designated spots at staggered hours within the compound.


- 封控区 refers to the area with positive infection reported in the past 7 days. The prevention strategy is to implement 7 days of lockdown.

Most people in Shanghai have spent almost 50 days in 封控区. It indeed was an uneasy experience for everyone.

I hope this article can help you understand these pandemic related Chinese words better.

Last but not the least, let's hope Shanghai people can embrace 解封 soon! Looking forward to the day when all these buzzwords become history. Hang in there, 大家加油!Dàjiā jiāyóu!

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