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How coronavirus got its name? Take a look at WHO's guidelines for naming diseases

How coronavirus got its name? Take a look at WHO's guidelines for naming diseases

How coronavirus got its name? Take a look at WHO's guidelines for naming diseases
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By Karan Dev  Mar 18, 2020 5:30:00 PM IST (Published)

The acronym COVID-19 for coronavirus disease is drawn from a particular set of guidelines laid out by the World Health Organization (WHO). As the coronavirus outbreak has turned into a pandemic, most health agencies and governments are focussing on precautionary measures to ensure people are less vulnerable to the disease. Moreover, there is a strong reason why the virus was not named after the region from where it originated.

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The outbreak has come at a monumental cost to life and economic activity across the globe. The virus has impacted almost every sector and has brought life to a virtual standstill worldwide. Now, researchers are gathering all information they can about the virus and medical practitioners are beginning trial of the vaccine to stop it from spreading further.
Why coronavirus?
The nomenclature coronavirus or COVID-19 was given keeping in mind the World Health Organization's "Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases" report. The sensitive nature of the outbreak highlighted the need to ensure sentiments of the people and countries are respected. Hence, a name is given that does not harm interests of susceptible populations.
According to WHO, the spread of diseases such as Swine flu and Ebola created prejudice in the minds of people, which gave rise to the need for a formal set of instructions, which include:
  • Avoiding geographic origins of the disease in the name.
  • Avoiding association of any species of animals in the name that caused the outbreak.
  • Avoiding terms that cause fear and incite panic in the minds of people.
  • Since the guidelines were set out, one of the goals of WHO was to prevent the outbreak of worldwide diseases and conduct rescue efforts coupled with informing the public of the scale of health calamities. A major cause for concern which underlined the scale of the crisis was when the UN declared the outbreak a "pandemic".
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