New Coronavirus Now Has Official Name Of Covid-19
The novel coronavirus, which has killed hundreds and infected thousands more, now has an official name of Covid-19.
#Breaking The new coronavirus has been named Covid-19 by the director general of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pic.twitter.com/bbK3Pn7wg7
- PA Media (@PA) February 11, 2020
The virus has killed 1,018 at the time of writing, with 43,143 cases confirmed worldwide - a number that grows by the hour.
Technically, the virus already had a name, but '2019-nCoV' isn't exactly the catchiest of titles, so somewhat understandably no one's really been using it.
'2019-nCov' was also only ever supposed to be a temporary name recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), referring to the year it was discovered (that's the '2019' bit), the fact that it's new or novel (which the 'n' denotes) and that it's a type of coronavirus (as 'CoV' dictates).
According to Dr. Seema Yasmin, the new coronavirus is part of a 'massive family of viruses that includes everything from SARS on the one hand, which is a deadly infection, to the common cold, which is far from deadly'.
Yasmin told Wired that the new coronavirus differs from SARS in that it currently appears to be more infectious, but less deadly.
She said: "It seems a little bit different to what we saw with SARS back in 2002, where people were more likely to have sore throats, a runny nose and diarrhea.
"There's already evidence that this new coronavirus does spread from person to person. The interesting thing is it seems to be more infectious than SARS, another coronavirus, but less deadly.
"So at the moment we think that the death rate from the new coronavirus is around 2.5 to 3.5 percent - for SARS it was in the double digits; it was at least 10 or 11 percent."
The WHO had advised several guidelines for the new name, warning that it should not include geographical locations, people's names, the name of an animal or a kind of food, or references to a particular culture or industry.
Instead, the organisation said, the name should be short and descriptive - just like SARS, which stood for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
The John Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering has built and is regularly updating an online dashboard for tracking the worldwide spread of the coronavirus outbreak, which has been traced back to a seafood market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Lauren Gardner, a civil engineering professor and CSSE's co-director, said: "We built this dashboard because we think it is important for the public to have an understanding of the outbreak situation as it unfolds with transparent data sources.
"For the research community, this data will become more valuable as we continue to collect it over time."
Crystal Watson, senior scholar and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said: "The naming of a new virus is often quite delayed and the focus until now has been on the public health response, which is understandable.
"But there are reasons the naming should be a priority."
Featured Image Credit: PA