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The Deadly Coronavirus Has Been Given A Name To Prevent 'Inaccuracy And Stigma'

The new coronavirus has been named Covid-19 by the director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The name for the new virus could not refer to specific geographical locations, animals or people, according to guidelines from the WHO, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

"Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising," Tedros told a press conference in Geneva.

Tedros has also launched an appeal to share virus samples and speed up research to combat the outbreak.

He was addressing the start of a two-day meeting aimed at accelerating development of drugs, diagnostics and vaccines against the flu-like virus amid growing concerns about its ability to spread.

China has reported at least 42,708 confirmed cases, including 1017 deaths.

"With 99 per cent of cases in China, this remains very much an emergency for that country but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world," he said.

Tedros referred to "some concerning instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China", citing cases this week in France and Britain.

Five British nationals were diagnosed with the coronavirus in France after staying in the same ski chalet with a person who had been in Singapore.

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"The detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire. But for now it's only a spark. Our objective remains containment," he said.

Many questions remain about the origin of the virus, which emerged at a wildlife market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and is spread by coughing or sneezing.

"We hope one of the outcomes of this meeting will be an agreed roadmap for research around which researchers and donors will align," Tedros added.

"The bottom line is solidarity, solidarity, solidarity. That is especially true in relation to sharing of samples and sequences."