The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced an official name for the new novel coronavirus that has killed over 1,000 people and infected tens of thousands more since the outbreak originating in Wuhan, China was reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019.
In a report from the BBC, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking to reporters in Geneva confirmed that: “We now have a name for the disease and it’s Covid-19.”
The move to designate an official name for the disease has been led by researchers seeking to “avoid confusion and stigmatisation of any group or country,” the BBC reports.
The name ‘Covid-19’ is an amalgam of the words ‘corona’, ‘virus’, and ‘disease’, while the numeral ’19’ represents ‘2019’, the year the outbreak began. The term ‘coronavirus’, though, is indicative of the over-arching group of viruses the strain belongs to — not the individual strain itself.
This latest strain, according to the BBC report, has been identified as ‘SARS-CoV-2’ by the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses.
Elaborating on the WHO’s decision to name the disease officially ‘Covid-19’, Ghebreyesus said, as quoted by the BBC: “We had to find a name 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 death toll from Covid-19 has now surpassed that of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, with more than 42,200 cases of the disease confirmed across China, and over 400 additional cases confirmed in other countries worldwide.