GENEVA, Switzerland – The World Health Organization has officially named the new coronavirus that has killed more than 1,000 people.
WHO announced Tuesday that it has named the disease, "COVID-19."
The director general of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says the agency had to find a name that didn’t refer to a geographical location, an animal, a group of people and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease.
“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” said Ghebreyesus. “It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”
As of Tuesday morning, WHO says 1,017 people in China has lost their lives due to the virus, with most of the deaths in the Hubei province, where the outbreak is believed to have originated from.
According to WHO, 42,708 cases have been confirmed in China and outside the country, 393 cases have been confirmed in 24 countries, with one death.
Ghebreyesus says the first vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready in 18 months, but there are steps that are being taken today to prevent the spread of the disease.
WHO has sent supplies to countries to diagnose and treat patients and protect health workers. The agency has advised countries how to prevent the spread of disease and care for those who are sick. And, it is strengthening lab capacity all over the world and training thousands of health care workers.
Additionally, WHO says it’s working to keep the public informed about what everyone can do to protect their own health and that of others. That includes cleaning your hands thoroughly, keeping your distance from someone who is coughing or sneezing, and covering you mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze.