Washington: World Health Organization officials warned against calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” as President Donald Trump has done, arguing that it could lead to racial profiling, reports CNBC.
“Viruses know no borders and they don’t care about your ethnicity, the color of your skin or how much money you have in the bank. So it’s really important we be careful in the language we use lest it lead to the profiling of individuals associated with the virus,” Dr. Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said at a news conference Wednesday.
Since emerging from Wuhan, China, just over three months ago, the new coronavirus has spread to almost every country around the world, infecting more than 212,000 people and killing at least 8,727 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates agreed with Ryan, writing in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit on Wednesday that “we should not call this the Chinese virus.”
Trump denied that his characterization of the coronavirus is racist, Trump said at a White House news conference Wednesday.
He argued that he calls it the Chinese virus, because it comes from China.
WHO officials intentionally gave the virus a generic name to avoid stigmatizing a country or particular group. In the official name, COVID-19, CO stands for corona, the VI for virus and D for disease. COVID-19 was first detected late last year.