The WHO is treading carefully on naming the 2019 novel coronavirus, keen to avoid stigmatizing the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began, or China.
The UN health agency’s official temporary name for the disease, which it has designated as a global health emergency of international concern, is “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease.”
The date refers to when it was first identified on Dec. 31 last year and “nCoV” stands for “novel coronavirus” — the family of viruses it belongs to.
“We thought it was very important that we provide an interim name so that no location was associated with the name,” Maria van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis unit, told the agency’s executive board on Friday.
“I’m sure you’ve all seen many media reports that are still calling it using Wuhan or China, and we wanted to ensure that there was no stigma,” she said.
The final decision on a name is expected within days and is up to the WHO, as well as coronavirus experts on the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
However, picking a more specific name is fraught with dangers.
Under a set of guidelines issued in 2015, the WHO advises against using place names such as Ebola and Zika — where those diseases were first identified and which are now inevitably linked to them in the public imagination.
WHO Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness director Sylvie Briand earlier this week said that the use of a place name created “an unnecessary burden.”
More general names, such as “Middle East respiratory syndrome” or “Spanish flu” are also to be avoided, as they can stigmatize entire regions or ethnic groups.
“It is the responsibility of us all to ensure that there is no stigma associated with this disease, and the unnecessary and unhelpful profiling of individuals based on ethnicity is utterly and completely unacceptable,” WHO Health Emergencies Programme executive director Michael Ryan said.
Meanwhile, China announced yesterday that it would temporarily call the disease, which has killed more than 700 people, novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP).
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic