The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the new name of coronavirus at Geneva on Tuesday, February 12. 

The coronavirus disease causing a deadly outbreak in China has been named COVID-19.

The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses has named the virus itself SARS-CoV-2 after a similar but more deadly bug discovered in China in 2002.

“Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing,” Tedros told reporters. It also gives a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreak.

Tedros said the agency wanted to avoid stigmatizing a country or particular group, so it chose a name that did not refer to a geographical location, animals, an individual or a group of people.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist, said the acronym allows for flexibility for naming new coronaviruses that may emerge in the future.

“Coronavirus is a group of viruses that are quite common,” Swaminathan said. There are many known strains of coronavirus. It is possible that there will be another strain of coronavirus. Then that could also be named by the year it appeared.

“It’s important to have a name that everybody uses — both for scientific purposes to compare … and also to avoid a number of different stigmatizing or other forms of confusing names,” she added.

TheWorld Health Organization (WHO) has announced that, for the first time, that it spent nearly 1.4 billion dollars annually on efforts to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

WHO made this announcement as part of activities organised to commemorate the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, the practice of altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.

The costs of FGM, is said to be associated with gynecological, obstetric, urological, mental and sexual, and the immediate health complications, can make up to 30 per cent of the health budget in some countries.

WHO described FGM as a violation of human rights and an extreme form of gender discrimination.

Ian Askew, Director of WHO Sexual Health Department stated that FGM is not only an abuse of human rights that harms the physical/mental health of millions of girls/women, it is also a drain on a country’s economy.

“More investment is urgently needed to stop FGM and end the suffering it inflicts. At least 200 million girls and women alive today, living in 31 countries, have undergone FGM. The practice is widespread in some countries in Africa, the Middle East and also Indonesia,” Askew explained.

Michel Yao, The World Health Organization’s Africa emergency response program manager advised health ministers in the region to activate standard flu screening at airports for passengers coming from mainland China.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda among other countries, is said to have started implementing surveillance and screening at airports, especially for travellers arriving from Wuhan in China where the outbreak began in December.

On  Wednesday Ivory Coast’s health ministry, said the suspected case of coronavirus in the country had tested negative.

It involved a student who had travelled from Beijing to Abidjan over the weekend had shown flu-like symptoms, ‘coughing, sneezing and experienced difficulty breathing’.

In a statement, the Ivorian health ministry said that tests by research institutes in Ivory Coast and France had come back negative for the virus. 

If the results had been positive, this would have been the first confirmed case in Africa.

According to the ministry, the 34-year-old student who was quarantined while tests were carried out is being treated for her symptoms and is recovering well.

Ghana’s Ministry of Health has designated two hospitals known as; the Ridge Hospital and the Tema General Hospital as centers to manage possible cases of coronavirus in the country, both facilities are in the Greater Accra region .

The Ministry, in a statement released said that this is part of the country’s plan to prevent and control any case that may be detected in the country and ultimately protect the Ghanaian population.

It explained that it has tightened the country’s emergency preparedness and response plan due to the rising number of infections from the novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in other countries of the world.

Earlier, The Ministry had issued a statement that said all passengers from China must mandatorily fill health declaration forms. The Health Ministry has stepped up by the process by applying it to all international arrivals at Terminal 3 of Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

“Screening for fever using the walk-through thermometers and non-contact thermometers are ongoing at KIA and other points of entry. Efforts are underway to ensure that all points of entry have non-contact thermometers,” the Ministry added.

The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIR) has since been designated as a laboratory for investigating the virus it is said that it is well-resourced to diagnose coronavirus infection.

The Ministry also said it is strictly collaborating with the World Health Organization, Veterinary Services Department, Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention among others to execute the country’s emergency response plan.