Covid-19: As its toll surpasses 1000 lives, the new coronavirus outbreak gets a name

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Covid-19 is announced as China case count surges past 40,000, as 13th patient diagnosed in U.S.

Dr. Tedros also notes that struggle to end DRC Ebola outbreak continues

Unheard of, and across most of the world unrecognized until two months ago, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus that as of today has taken more than 1000 lives since, has a name hoped to facilitate communication of its threat.

Covid-19, based on the first letters of corona, virus, and disease and the year in which it was discovered, rolls off the tongue. It doesn’t refer to an animal, an individual, a group of people, or a geographical location. It observes lessons of the past, which includes the stigmatizing path to naming AIDS, and then HIV, and how both Ebola and Zika too long carried the message that the risk for those diseases were associated with just two remote — and then stigmatized —  regions. But it also carries an ominous message for the future: It will facilitate the naming of the inevitable novel coronavirus outbreaks to come.

The name comes as WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus continues to emphasize the opportunity to contain the spread of the virus remains open, but depends on two more unknowns — the realization of what he called “positive signs” that the international community will step up with the funding needed, and the collaboration and cooperation across individuals and communities to adhere to precautions needed to prevent the spread of disease. His words came as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a 13th person in the United States confirmed with Covid-19, with the illness discovered in someone under federal quarantine in California.

It also comes a day ahead of a potential turning point in the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In a week that saw three new Ebola diagnoses  — none in the last three days, the emergency committee that, a year in, found that outbreak to be a public health emergency of international concern — a PHEIC — will meet again, Wednesday, to weigh its current status. The committee’s decision will come in the midst of what Dr. Tedros says remains a “massive response,” with more than 700 vaccinations, and nearly 2,000 contacts followed on Monday alone.

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