• Sunday, June 16, 2024
businessday logo


Covid-19 is official name for Coronavirus disease – WHO


The World Health Organisation says “COVID-19” will now be the official name of the deadly coronavirus. The virus has killed 1,016 on mainland China, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, while 42,638 infections have been reported.

At least 25 countries have confirmed cases and several nations have evacuated their citizens from Hubei, the epicentre of a new coronavirus outbreak.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO on announcing the new name of the virus on Tuesday explained that 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.

Ghebreyesus further said “first of all, we now have a name for the disease: COVID-19. I’ll spell it: C-O-V-I-D hyphen one nine – COVID-19.

“The “Co” and “Vi” indicate that it’s a coronavirus, the “d” signifies its status as a disease, while the “19” refers to the fact that the infection emerged in 2019,” he said.

The WHO’s director also said that there is a concern by the agency bringing the world together to coordinate the response. According to him, “That’s the essence of multilateralism, which is very important for the world”.

He further said that the development of vaccines and therapeutics is one important part of the research agenda – but stressed that it is only one part. “They will take time to develop, but in the meantime, we are not defenceless. There are many basic public health interventions that are available to us now, and which can prevent infections now.”

According to Ghebreyesus, the first vaccine could be ready in 18 months.

“We have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus, while preparing for the long-term. We’ve sent supplies to countries to diagnose and treat patients and protect health workers,” he said.

However, the director says that the agency is keeping the public informed about what everyone can do to protect their own health and that of others.

He noted that when each and every individual becomes part of the containment strategy that we can succeed. That’s why reaching out to the public directly and telling them the precautions they should take.

“Clean your hands regularly, either with alcohol-based rub or soap and water. Keep your distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing and when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow.”

“It’s also important to remember that while we need investment in research and development, we also need investment in stopping this outbreak now,” he said.