12 Feb 2020
WHO names deadly coronavirus disease 'COVID-19'
The deadly coronavirus disease that has affected thousands around the globe and claimed hundreds of lives has been given an official name - 'COVID-19'.
The title was announced by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN health agency that has already declared the outbreak of the never-seen-before virus a global public health emergency.
Here's all you need to know about it.
Official announcement by WHO chief
During a press conference on Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the coronavirus, which has been spreading from China and was previously known as '2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease,' has been named COVID-19.
He noted that 'co' in the name stands for corona, 'vi' for the word virus, 'd' for disease, while '19' signifies the year of its initial identification, meaning 2019.
Specific references to geographies, animals avoided
Tedros added in the statement that the new name was chosen in accordance with the international recommendations for naming diseases.
As part of this, they avoided giving references to specific geographies, animals, or select groups of people, so that in no case the name of the disease is used for any kind of stigmatization or to target any community/ethnic group.
So far, COVID-19 has killed more than 1,000 people
COVID-19 began spreading last year from the Wuhan province of China and has already breached 25 countries, including India, so far.
It has affected more than 42,000 people around the world and has claimed 1,000+ lives, with most being in China.
All governments are working to develop a vaccine for the disease and trying to contain its spread.
WHO describes COVID-19 as a 'very grave threat'
While announcing its name, the WHO chief described COVID-19 as a 'very grave threat' to the world.
"Viruses can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action," he said but also claimed that we have a "chance of stopping this outbreak."
Now, WHO plans to hold a meeting with 400 scientists to review the source/transmission of the virus and possible vaccines to tackle it.
Ebola and Zika were linked to places
The naming guidelines used by WHO were adopted after deadly viruses Ebola and Zika were named after the places they were first identified, causing the public to link those places with the viruses. Another case was of 'swine flu', which affected the pork industry significantly.