World Health Organization (WHO) has named the virus that recently has been giving rise to global panic—particularly, in China. The coronavirus would be known as “COVID-19” from now on. WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, “We now have a name for the disease and it's COVID-19.”
Tedros said that ‘co’ stands for corona, ‘vi’ for virus and ‘d’ for disease, while ‘19’ denotes the year, as the outbreak was first identified on December 31.
It should be noted that while dealing with its nomenclature, efforts have been made to avoid references to a specific geographical location, an animal species or group of people. This has been done in accordance with the international norms to prevent stigmatisation.
According to a set of guidelines issued in 2015, WHO had advised not to include the name of any place, such as Ebola and Zika, where those diseases were first identified. Generic names such as ‘Middle East Respiratory Syndrome’ or ‘Spanish flu’ are also avoided now. Because using these names may lead to stigmatisation of the entire region or ethnic groups.
WHO also recommends that names of the animal species names should be avoided because it can cause unnecessary confusion as it happened in the case of H1N1 in 2009, popularly known as “swine flu”. Due to this, the pork industry worldwide had to suffer a great loss.
Uncontrolled COVID-19 Has Potential to Infect 60% of Global Population?
Prof. Gabriel Leung, the chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, before his participation at an experts’ meeting called by WHO at Geneva, came up with a shocking declaration. He said that if uncontrolled, the coronavirus can affect about two-thirds of the world’s population. Notably, WHO director commented on the grave nature of the epidemic saying, “Recent cases of coronavirus patients who had never visited China could be the tip of the iceberg.”
Leung said that the pertinent question here is how big and of what shape the iceberg is. The estimation by experts says that each person infected can go on to transmit the virus to about 2.5 other people, which gives a staggering strike rate of 60-80%. How big the number would be if 60% of the world’s population gets affected!
“Is 60-80% of the world’s population going to get infected? Maybe not. Maybe this will come in waves. Maybe the virus is going to attenuate its lethality because it certainly doesn’t help it if it kills everybody in its path, because it will get killed as well,” Leung said.
If COVID-19 reaches countries where the healthcare system is not that advanced and where the population is very large and dense, it can cause real devastation. China has taken extraordinary measures for the containment of the disease. The question remains how the world community acts to stop the spread of it and help underdeveloped countries.
Also watch: How Is China Responding to Coronavirus Outbreak?