There is now an official name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus, which has killed more than 1000 people so far: Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO) made the announcement in a tweet on 11 February.
The name is a shortened version of coronavirus disease 2019.
“We had to find a name that did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” the WHO says. The decision was based on guidelines agreed between WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing. It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks,” the WHO continued.
The virus itself is called 2019-nCoV, although it is often referred to as the novel coronavirus by the WHO. It has also been called the new coronavirus or 2019 coronavirus, and in the media it is increasingly just called the coronavirus.
It isn’t yet clear whether someone with mild symptoms could be said to have Covid-19, or whether it refers only to the more severe cases. However, the WHO’s technical guidance defines a “person with laboratory confirmation of 2019-nCoV infection, irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms”. New Scientist