A man being screened for symptoms of COVID-19 at a hospital in Jharkhand. Photo/ANI
A man being screened for symptoms of COVID-19 at a hospital in Jharkhand. Photo/ANI

Corona Glossary-1

By BN Uniyal | Updated: May 13, 2020 11:51 IST

New Delhi [India], May 13 (ANI): The idea of composing a Corona Glossary came to my mind when several friends began asking questions about one thing or another relating to COVID-19, like "What is the difference between a bacteria and a virus?" or "Difference between a pandemic and epidemic." I also thought it would be useful to quench the thirst for correct information and knowledge agitating the minds of the young.
The coronavirus has triggered not only a pandemic but also an outbreak of new and confusing technical terms, initialisms and abbreviations. ANI wishes to keep you informed about the meaning of such terms to help you make sense of the new world opening before you. In this endeavour, we shall send a few terms newly come in vogue with detailed explanations. Here is the first instalment.
Covid-19 is the disease caused by coronavirus named SARS Cov-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus">Coronavirus-2). "Covid" in Covid-19 stands for "coronavirus disease" and "19" for the year in which the disease first came to notice in Wuhan city of Hubei province of China. The Chinese health authorities informed the China Country Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 31 Dec. 2019 that cases of pneumonia of unknown aetiology (unknown cause) had been detected in Wuhan. The Chinese authorities further reported that a 55-year-old (whose name or gender was not disclosed) could have been the first person to have contracted the viral infection on Nov. 17, 2019 following which cases began rapidly piling up in Wuhan. WHO gave the disease the name Covid-19 on 11 Feb. 2020 listing it as such in its catalogue known as International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
The term "corona" went global overnight soon after the Chinese health authorities identified it as the cause of a new type of pneumonia on 7 January 2020. WHO temporarily named the new virus "2019-nCoV" wherein "n" stood for "novel." The virus was later given the technical name Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus">Coronavirus-2 or SARS CoV-2 by International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), set up in 1966 with its headquarters in London, to designate and name virus taxa (i.e. species, genus, family, etc.) It was named SARS CoV-2 because it showed many similarities to another strain of a virus of the same family that had also appeared in China during 2002-04 causing many casualties. That virus was named SARS CoV-1 or just SARS CoV. So, this second virus became SARS CoV-2.
Corona, however, is not the name of any particular virus but of an entire family of viruses of which 40 members have so far been identified and of which four are known to afflict humans causing diseases like dysentery, flu and SARS.
"Corona" is a Latin word meaning "crown," from ancient Greek korone meaning "garland, wreathe, something curved, as is a crown." French has Couronne, German Krone and Dutch kroon. Sanskrit cognate may be kireet, a radiated crown of a king. All these terms are used for a king's corona radiata or a radiant crown with a halo around, that is, a crown with spikes which have sort of a blob or a globule at the top. When the first virus of the previously unknown corona family came to notice it was given that name because under the electron microscopes of the time its shape looked like a king's radiating crown like the one seen on the head of New York's Statue of Liberty. That virus was identified by pioneer Scottish virologist June Dalziel Almeida (1930-2007). Under new advanced microscopes, however, the shape of these viruses looked more like old fashioned naval mines or undersea bombs. So, though the shape of the virus now shown on TV screens and social media has been corrected to look like a naval mine, the name given to it five decades ago has stuck. The name corona for the virus was suggested by June's colleague, David Tyrrell, also a virologist and then director of the Common Cold Research Centre in Salisbury in Wiltshire, U. K.
Well known veteran journalist BN Uniyal has compiled this glossary for ANI. (ANI)