As coronavirus continues to spread, the World Health Organization has officially given it a name: COVID-19. Previously referred to as the “2019 novel coronavirus,” this new name should not only help scientists and media organizations refer to this specific outbreak, but it also lays down a model for future coronavirus outbreaks that may occur.
The name for this coronavirus outbreak was revealed today during WHO’s daily media conference on the disease. Tedros Adhanom Ghebryesus, Director-General of WHO, explained that as of 6 AM Geneva time this morning, there are now “42,708 confirmed cases reported in China,” with 1,017 deaths. Elsewhere in the world, there are 393 known cases in 24 countries with only one confirmed death.
Dr. Tedros also announced that WHO has activated the UN’s Crisis Management Team in response to the outbreak. “This will help WHO focus on the health response while the other agencies can bring their expertise to bear on the wide social, economic, and developmental implications of the COVID-19 outbreak,” he explained.
Throughout today and tomorrow, WHO will be holding a meeting with more than 400 scientists in attendance to determine a path forward. Dr. Tedros set the expectation for this meeting during today’s media report, saying that the goal is not to find “immediate answers to every question.” Instead, he says that the goal is “an agreed roadmap on what questions we need to ask, and how we will go about answering those questions.”
Another goal will be coming up with a research roadmap so organizations which providing funding for that research have a better idea of where their money will have the most impact. We’ll see what Dr. Tedros and WHO share after this meeting is complete, but for now, just know that when you see references to COVID-19, they’re talking about the current coronavirus outbreak.