At the time of writing, COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, has reached 177 countries around the world, infecting over 230,000 people. Beginning in China before swiftly spreading to other countries, the outbreak has now been officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

As a result, many countries are going into lockdown, and international travel is becoming increasingly restricted. In this blog post, we’re going to look at the role of translations in the midst of a pandemic like COVID-19.

Speaking up during the coronavirus outbreak

Translation is all about communication, and communication can save lives. As it can spread so easily, COVID-19 has made it more important than ever to communicate internationally. Communication about the coronavirus comes in many forms, depending on the source, and includes:

  • Scientific discourse
  • Personal experiences
  • Business continuity plans
  • Service cancellations

The issue, of course, is that the global pandemic affects people who speak many different languages. 

What steps did the Chinese take?

Originating in China, COVID-19 was first analysed by Chinese scientists and doctors. When they recognised the threat posed by the virus, they set about getting information on their discovery translated into other languages so the whole world could know about it. This marks a departure from the handling of the SARS outbreak, which was largely kept quiet, to the detriment of public health and China’s reputation.

As a result of Chinese actions in the earliest days of the outbreak, governments worldwide could begin to prepare for the virus which would inevitably reach their shores.

How does this help?

In dealing with COVID-19, symptoms and experiences are regularly being shared by those working with the infected and those who have had the virus. Typically, this information is shared to local media, in their native tongue. With China and Italy the two worst affected countries so far, the need for translation arose. Translation helps in this case by allowing:

  • Knowledge of symptoms to be shared in languages and terms people understand
  • Other people’s experiences of the virus to be shared, which can help alleviate some of the panic of infection
  • The seriousness of the infection for vulnerable and at-risk members of society to be communicated in native languages by those working in the most affected regions

International organisation

At policy-making level, warnings and advice from the countries worst affected so far can help stem the tide of infection in other countries. This is made easier through the use of translation services. By sharing information, the infection – and potential casualty – figures can be limited as much as possible.

Keeping clients and customers informed

COVID-19 has already reached most of the world; as a result, international business is being disrupted. As part of efforts to ensure your business survives the lockdown period, it helps to keep in touch with your clients and customers about how you’re coping with the outbreak. A business continuity plan should include measures for informing international clients and customers about how the coronavirus is affecting operations. Remember, though, that people are already likely to be receiving dozens of emails about COVID-19, even from businesses they have only had one interaction with in the past.

How can we help?

We’re passionate about communication. Get in touch to discuss your translation needs today, so you can keep your clients worldwide up to date on everything they need to know about how COVID-19 is affecting you.