SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The World Health Organization has officially given the illness caused by the novel coronavirus a name: COVID-19.
The name was announced by WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus on Tuesday during WHO’s daily media conference on the disease.
“COVI” comes from coronavirus, while the “D” stands for disease. The 19 stands for 2019, which is the year the virus was first identified in December in Wuhan.
“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,” the WHO chief said, adding that the name was agreed upon by officials at WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
WHO reports there were more than 42,000 confirmed cases reported in China, with 1,017 deaths since the outbreak began in Wuhan in December.
WHO officials said they had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, animal, or individual group of people that can be “inaccurate” or “stigmatizing.”
Officials also announced that the agency has activated the UN’s Crisis Management Team in response to the outbreak, which will “help WHO focus on the health response while the other agencies can bring their expertise to bear on the wide social, economic, and developmental implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
Since it first originated, the virus has been referred to by several names including coronavirus, Wuhan virus, Wuhan coronavirus, and novel coronavirus.