For months, the world has used temporary names like Wuhan Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, or just "coronavirus" to refer to the flu virus spreading across the world. After months of deliberation, the World Health Organization has finally settled on an official name: COVID-19.
"We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease," explained Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO at a COVID-19 briefing. "Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks."
At the briefing, Ghebreyesus also announced that 400 scientists from around the world will be meeting, both in person and virtually, to determine the next course of action against COVID-19.
COVID-19 is 'Public Enemy Number One'
In a separate interview, Ghebreyesus told reporters that it's time that the world "wake up and consider this enemy virus as public enemy number one."
"To be honest a virus is more powerful in creating political, social and economic upheaval than any terrorist attack," he said. "It's the worst enemy you can imagine."
World stocks have plunged since COVID-19 started spreading, and economies will undoubtedly feel the brunt of the impact in the months of come. Companies of all sizes in China have shut down, and many will have to take out loans to stay afloat.
Meanwhile, scientists have discovered three new disturbing developments regarding COVID-19: incubation period can last for up to 24 days, 10 more than the initial 14 days; and transmission through stool has been confirmed, meaning individuals must avoid open sewers.
As of February 12, over 44,000 patients have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with the death toll reaching 1,113, surpassing the casualties of SARS in 2002 to 2003. Over 4,500 cases have been cured and recovered.