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Deadly coronavirus given official name 'Covid-19'

The WHO said the name was chosen so as not to refer to a place, animal or group of people.

A pair of goggles made by a 3D printer in China.
A pair of goggles made by a 3D printer in China.
Image: PA Images

THE WORLD HEALTH Organisation has said that “Covid-19″ would be the new official name for the deadly coronavirus that was first identified in China on 31 December.

“We now have a name for the disease and it’s Covid-19,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, explaining that “co” stood for “corona”, “vi” for “virus” and “d” for “disease”.

Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that is  the seventh known type of coronavirus that humans can contract.

It belongs to a broad family of viruses that range from the common cold to more serious illnesses such as SARS.

Dr Ghebreyesus told a press conference that a name was decided that: “did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease”.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

The WHO had earlier given the virus the temporary name of “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” and China’s National Health Commission this week said it was temporarily calling it “novel coronavirus pneumonia” or NCP.

Speaking on the first day of an international scientific conference in Geneva that will look at possible vaccine options to combat the virus, Tedros also said he saw a “realistic chance” of stopping the outbreak.

“We are not defenceless,” he said.

We have to use the current window of opportunity to hit hard and stand in unison to fight this virus in every corner. If we don’t we could have far more cases and far higher costs on our hands.

The death toll from the deadly outbreak in mainland China has now passed 1,000 people, Chine health authorities said today.

- With reporting by © – AFP 2019

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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