KEY POINTS

  • Coronavirus is a health problem that has affected a lot of people from different countries around the world
  • It is known by a lot of names, the most popular of which is Wuhan coronavirus
  • To avoid any ethnic reference, the World Health Organization has given it its official name

If people are made to recall something about December of 2019 and January of 2020, coronavirus would surely be on top of their list. This is because the deadly virus took everyone by surprise in both how it quickly spread and how deadly it can be. Scientists say that the world is already on a knife’s edge of suffering from a coronavirus pandemic.

From a few hundred infected in December of 2019, it suddenly surged to thousands during the middle of January, and at present, it has already surpassed the 60,000 mark. The lives of more than 18% of infected persons were already claimed by the disease.

It has also spread out to 28 countries on four continents, including Europe, North America, Oceania, and Asia. Health officials in the UK admit there are nine confirmed cases at present.

The deadly virus has been called many names, which include novel coronavirus, nCoV, and Wuhan coronavirus. The latter name has been the subject of protest as it is claimed by some to foster racism and isolation. The city of Wuhan in China is said to be the place where the deadly virus was first detected in December of 2019.

COVID-19

When it was first detected, scientists saw similarities with SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome virus, which also belonged to the huge family of coronaviruses. The new strain, however, has several differences with other coronavirus diseases, compelling scientists to attach the word novel or new coronavirus to distinguish it from other coronavirus diseases.

After a while, some sectors began calling it the Wuhan Coronavirus, nCoV, and 2019-CoV. In fact, the temporary name assigned to it by scientists was actually 2019-nCoV. This name denoted the year it was detected, it's status as new, different, or novel, and the family of viruses where it belonged.

The new and official designation of COVID-19, while it may look or sound different, has the same information. COVID-19 means Corona Virus Disease 2019.

The Importance of the Name

According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization Director-General, the health body gave it an official name to help prevent stigmatizing names. Ghebreyesus said that such stigma is already happening in other countries, which banned the entry of people coming from China.

The Director-General also said that giving the deadly virus a name is very important as it effectively prevented the use of other names, such as Wuhan Coronavirus. This name can cause stigma, not only for Wuhan residents but for the Chinese people as well. Aside from preventing the stigmatization of the disease, giving it an official name provides a standard format that scientists and medical experts can use for future references.