Coronavirus disease officially named Covid-19

Passengers wearing masks walk outside the Shanghai railway station in Shanghai, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

The outbreak of novel coronavirus that has led the World Health Organisation to declare a global health emergency has finally received an official name: Covid-19.

Tens of thousands of people have been infected by the disease, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, and the death toll has exceeded 1,000.

Researchers have long been calling for an official name for the disease, one which would help minimise confusion and which would avoid the stigmatisation of any group or country.

The WHO sought a name which could be easily pronounced, and which did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or a group of people.

The new name is portmanteau sourced from the words “corona,” “virus” and “disease,” with the number referring to 2019, the year in which it emerged.

The virus itself has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.