The name coronavirus is referred to identify the virus, but it is the name of the group of viruses it belongs to. The temporary name that was given to the virus by the WHO is 2019-nCoV. The name comes with reference to the year it was discovered, and nCoV is basically saying the novel coronavirus. This name is being considered too much of a mouthful to be used, so, everyone is has resorted to calling it the coronavirus.
The names and social tensions
The assigning of a new name is associated with the social tensions that could possibly arise from it. The science community and the media were focused on the patients and controlling the spread of the virus. The present focus of the need for a new name came after people started calling it 'China virus' and 'Wuhan virus' which has caused racial tensions in several parts of the world.
Since most of the discussions happen on social media, there are chances of unofficial names taking hold and not being able to reverse the effect of the name. The task to formally assign a name is designated to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV). There are several things that the team assigned to picking the name for the virus has to be cautious about.
When the H1N1 virus or 'swine flu' outbreak took place, people were mistaken that the disease comes from pigs. In Egypt, pigs were slaughtered because of this. Even official names were sometimes problematic like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS. There were a lot of social biases and prejudices that happened because of the name.
Guidelines for deciding the new name
Since there has been backlash before the assigning of a new name will be done carefully. According to the guidelines set the name will not include geographical locations, people's names, the name of an animal or a kind of food, and references to a particular culture or industry.
The name will be short and descriptive. Some experts who will be deciding the name said that the name needs to be hooked for it to be used extensively. The discussion for the name began two weeks ago and took two days to settle into a name. The new name will be seen in a scientific journal after its submission which will announce the name in a few days.