IATE Term of the Week: COVID-19

covid19 feature

The IATE term of the week is «COVID-19», which is a new coronavirus disease. It was only on 31 December that a pneumonia of unknown cause detected in Wuhan, China was first reported to the WHO Country Office. After one month (January 2020) the outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and on 11 February 2020 WHO announced the name for the new coronavirus disease: COVID-19. After three months, the COVID-19 is officially defined as a pandemic.

WHO has published official names for the virus responsible for COVID-19 (also known as “2019 novel coronavirus”) and the disease it causes. The name of the virus is: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) and the name of the disease is: coronavirus disease (CO(rona)VI(rus)D(isease)-(20)19. This name was chosen by the ICTV because the virus started on 2019 and is genetically related to the coronavirus responsible for the SARS outbreak of 2003.

It is interesting to see how a virus gets their names. In generally there are different processes for naming virus and diseases. According to WHO:

“Viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate the development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines. Virologists and the wider scientific community do this work, so viruses are named by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).

Diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment.

Human disease preparedness and response is WHO’s role, so diseases are officially named by WHO in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).”

The following video is produced by WHO in order to learn a glossary related to the COVID-19. Terms, such as quarantine, isolation, social distancing, congregate setting, close contact, self observation, and their definition are presented using a clear language and plain terminology.

2020 is the first year that many Schengen Area Member States closed their border, after the Schengen agreement of 1985. 34 years, 8 months and 26 days later of the most important agreement of the history, European Union is forced to limit and in some cases to forbid transportation between the members states.

EU stand together against COVID-19.

covid iate     


Naming the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the virus that causes it. who.int. Accessed on 25 March 2020.

Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19). who.int. Accessed on 25 March 2020.

Positive from EUCO: Europe shows it is united and ready to act. europarl.europa.eu. Accessed on 25 March 2020.

Coronavirus: MEPs call for solidarity among EU member states. europarl.europa.eu. Accessed on 25 March 2020.

antonia pappaAntonia Pappa – Communication trainee at the Terminology Unit 

She holds a Bachelor degree of Communication, Culture and Media and she worked, for three years, for a newspaper and food magazines in Greece. Antonia is now taking a Master’s degree in International Marketing and Communication and is working her thesis about social media advertising. In her free time, she likes travelling, doing yoga and going for a walk with her dog.