(TMU) — The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday named the novel coronavirus that has killed at least 1,017 people in China while sickening 43,000 more. The organization also warned that the virus is “public enemy number one.”
The new coronavirus has officially been given a “pronounceable” name “related to the disease,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. The novel coronavirus is now called COVID-19, having been previously referred to as simply Wuhan, for the Chinese city in which it originated, as well as 2019-nCoV.
According to officials, the “CO” is for coronavirus, the “VI” is for virus, the “D” is for disease, and the “19” is for the year in which it was first detected.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros said. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”
WHO reports that the first vaccine for what the organization is calling a global threat worse than terrorism could be 18 months away.
Speaking of the threat posted by COVID-19, Tedros said, “To be honest, a virus is more powerful in creating political, economic and social upheaval than any terrorist attack.”
“A virus can have more powerful consequences than any terrorist action.
If the world doesn’t want to wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one, I don’t think we will learn from our lessons.”
The virus has so far been confirmed in 24 countries and territories outside of mainland China. Tedros expressed concerns that the virus could “create havoc” in countries that are ill prepared to fight it.
“With 99 per cent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world,” Tedros said.