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WHO names new coronavirus ‘COVID-19’

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Says disease ‘grave threat’, but the world not helpless

WHO names new coronavirus ‘COVID-19’

By Sola Ogundipe

The World Health Organisation, WHO has announced that the novel coronavirus will be known as  “COVID-19” henceforth, noting that it was careful to find a name without stigma.

“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, or an individual or group of people,” said the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a media chat on Tuesday.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”

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Tedros who spoke on Tuesday during a meeting of more than 400 scientists from around the world, said WHO is bringing the world together to coordinate the response.

“A research roadmap is also important for organisations that fund research to have a clear sense of what the public health priorities are, so they can make investments that deliver the biggest public health impact.”

According to Tedros, the disease presents a very grave threat for the rest of the world, but the world is not defenseless even though there are no vaccines against COVID-19.

“The development of vaccines and therapeutics is one important part of the research agenda – but it is only one part. They will take time to develop, but in the meantime, we are not defenseless. There are many basic public health interventions that are available to us now, and which can prevent infections now.

“The first vaccine could be ready in 18 months, so we have to do everything today using the available weapons to fight this virus while preparing for the long-term.

“We’ve sent supplies to countries to diagnose and treat patients and protect health workers. We’ve advised countries on how to prevent the spread of disease and care for those who are sick.

“We’re strengthening lab capacity all over the world.

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We’re training thousands of health workers. And we’re keeping the public informed about what everyone can do to protect their own health and that of others.

“It’s when each and every individual becomes part of the containment strategy that we can succeed. That’s why reaching out to the public directly and telling them the precautions they should take.

“It’s also important to remember that while we need investment in research and development, we also need investment in stopping this outbreak now,” he noted.


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