Coronavirus latest: WHO officially names disease COVID-19

Nature

Scientists are increasingly concerned about a new virus that has infected tens of thousands of people and killed more than 1,000. It is a coronavirus, and belongs to the same family as the pathogen that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. It causes a respiratory illness, can spread from person to person, and emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. 

Here’s the latest news on the outbreak.

11 February 15:25 GMT — Coronavirus disease officially named COVID-19

The World Health Organization has officially named the disease caused by the coronavirus COVID-19. This will replace various monikers and hashtags given to the emerging illness over the past few weeks. Most recently, on 8 February, China’s National Health Commission decided to temporarily call the disease novel coronavirus pneumonia, or NCP. But because viruses continue to spread from animals to people, this coronavirus won’t be novel for long.

“COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease in 2019,” said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, at a press briefing. She explained that there are many coronaviruses, and this style of naming will provide a format for referring to new coronavirus diseases in future years. “The virus itself is named by international group of virologists who will look into the taxonomy,” she said. “But it is important to have a name for this disease that everybody uses.”

Two other diseases caused by coronaviruses were given names describing the clinical manifestations: SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

Shortly after the WHO announced the disease’s official name, the virus causing it was named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. In a paper posted to the bioRxiv preprint server, the Committee’s study group on coronaviruses explains that this term highlights the new virus’ similarity to the SARS virus identified in 2003.

Read the rest here: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00154-w

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