WHO Renames Coronavirus as COVID-19

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that “COVID-19” will now be the official name of the deadly coronavirus.

The global health agency says the disease represented a “very grave threat” for the world but there was a “realistic chance” of stopping it.

“We now have a name for the disease and it’s ‘COVID-19’,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in the Swiss city of Geneva on Tuesday.

Tedros said that “CO” stands for “corona”, “VI” for “virus” and “D” for “disease”, while “19” was for the year, as the outbreak was first identified on December 31.

The WHO chief said the name had been chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species or group of people in line with international recommendations for naming aimed at preventing stigmatisation.

Since these incidents, the global agency has decided on names which are more generic and not related to people, places or specific animals.

‘’Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,’’ said Ghebreyesus.

Referring to some governments’ counterterrorism measures, Tedros said: “To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic and social upheaval than any terrorist attack.

“A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action. If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as Public Enemy Number 1, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons,” Tedros said.

The agency has appealed for sharing of virus samples and speeding up research into drugs and vaccines. 

“The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months. So, we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus while preparing for the long term using the preparations for the vaccines,” Tedros said.

“If we invest now … we have a realistic chance of stopping this outbreak.”

The announcement came as the death toll in mainland China has now reached more than 1,000, after 108 people died from the virus on Monday – the highest daily toll since the outbreak began late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

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