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COVID-19: WHO announces new official name for coronavirus

Reuters/AFP/Geneva
Filed on February 12, 2020 | Last updated on February 12, 2020 at 05.32 am
tedros, WHO, coronavirus new name, china, wuhan

(AP)

Chief Tedros calls it 'public enemy number one'.

The World Health Organization asked countries to be "as aggressive as possible" in fighting the newly named COVID-19 coronavirus on Tuesday.

"If the world doesn't want to wake up and consider the virus as public enemy number one, I don't think we will will learn from our lessons," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.

"...We are still in containment strategy and should not allow the virus to have a space to have local transmission."

WHO said "Covid-19" would be the new official name for the deadly coronavirus that was first identified in China on December 31.

"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". Tedros 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 in order to avoid stigmatisation.

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," he said.


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