Almost thousands of people have been affected and hundreds have died because of the novel Coronavirus infection that remained unnamed until now. Recently, this deadly viral infection has been officially termed as COVID-19 by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Previously, the illness caused by this virus was called “2019-nCoV”. But recently, the WHO has announced its name officially as COVID-2019. In this newly announced name, “2019” represents the year in which virus was emerged and identified, “COVI” stands for the word Coronavirus, and “D” represents disease.
After this novel Coronavirus outbreak, people started to refer to it as the “Wuhan virus” on the basis of its place of origin. But this practice was found to be against 2015 WHO’s guidelines for providing names to different infectious diseases.
These guidelines don’t encourage the idea of naming a disease in relevant to a specific person, profession, or a place. Such guidelines prevent the defamation of a population group or a geographic area due to the negative consequences of that particular disease.
The guidelines provided by the World Health Organization, also state that naming a disease based on the name of an animal or plant should also be avoided. The reason behind this guideline may be explained by the example of “swine flu” which led the Egyptian government to make an announcement regarding the slaughter of a large number of pigs because of the fear of disease caused by it.
According to a Professor at the University of Hong Kong, Keiji Fukuda, it is quite important to name a disease as soon as possible, with a term that is understandable for the people. He added that if an official name isn’t present for a disease, and a person comes up with a catchy term, it is nearly impossible to retract from using such a name.
In short, having an official name for a disease, such as this novel Coronavirus infection, has quite a significance. It prevents people from using an inaccurate or stigmatizing name. The World Health Organization has called experts to speed up the discovery of advanced diagnostic tests, and drugs and vaccines to hinder the spread of this outbreak caused by COVID-2019 in Wuhan.
This COVID-2019 outbreak was first reported during the last days of December 2019. But up till now, there aren’t any licensed vaccines or drugs available to fight against this deadly disease. And the laboratories throughout the world are making the best possible effort to develop rapid diagnostic tests for this disease.
In order to stop this new virus from spreading, almost 60 million Chinese have been locked down in Wuhan by the government order. The health authorities in other countries are also struggling to track and quarantine the confirmed infected patients.
Recent reports state that approximately 45,000 individuals have been affected by this virus with a death toll of more than 1000. And among these reported cases, 99 percent are from China. This COVID-2019 outbreak has raised fear in many other countries besides China. But still, there is a ray of light to stop this disease from spreading.