Coronavirus officially named Covid-19 by World Health Organisation

A quiet street is seen in a residential area in Beijing

A quiet street is seen in a residential area in Beijing

The United Nations' health agency has finally given an official name to the deadly novel coronavirus, nearly two weeks after it declared the disease a public health emergency.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the name was carefully chosen to avoid stigma and that other names could be inaccurate.

The U.N. health agency on Tuesday announced that "COVID-19" will be the official name of the deadly virus from China, saying the disease represented a "very grave threat" for the world but there was a "realistic chance" of stopping it.

"We've seen certain disease names provoke a backlash against members of particular religious or ethnic communities, create unjustified barriers to travel, commerce and trade, and trigger needless slaughtering of food animals".

The name breaks down into four parts - "co" for corona, "vi" for virus, "d" for disease', and 19 for its year of genesis. MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, was initially labelled 2012-nCoV (2012 novel coronavirus), much like the latest virus was first dubbed 2019-nCoV.

"Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing", Tedros added.

The death toll in an outbreak of a new pneumonia-causing coronavirus has exceeded 1,000 in China, the Hubei Province said Tuesday.

Another example of problematic virus naming came in 2009's H1N1 outbreak, informally referred to as "swine flu".

During the recent press briefing the WHO Director General also offered the latest update on the virus's spread.

All this culminated in the World Health Organization developing a set of guidelines for naming new diseases in 2015.

The virus, first identified in China on December 31, has killed more than 1000 people, infected over 42,000 and reached some 25 countries.

Experts say it could still be months or even years before any approved treatments or vaccines are developed.

Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, reported another 103 deaths, bringing the total number of deaths in mainland China to 1,011, in the highest single-day toll since the virus began to spread.

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