WHO Officials Warn Trump Against Calling Coronavirus ‘the Chinese Virus’

World Health Organization officials warned against calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” as President Donald Trump has done, saying that it could unintentionally lead to racial profiling, CNBC reported.

“Viruses no know 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,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s emergencies program, said at a press conference.

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, according to data compiled by John’s Hopkins University, CNBC adds.

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates agreed with Ryan, writing in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit on Wednesday, “we should not call this the Chinese virus.”

Trump defended his characterization of the coronavirus at a White House press conference discussing the pandemic Wednesday. “It’s not racist at all,” Trump said. “No, not at all.”

“Because it comes from China,” Trump told the reporter who asked him that question. “That’s why.”

WHO officials intentionally gave the virus a generic name to avoid stigmatizing a country or particular group, choosing a name that doesn’t refer to a geographical location, animals, an individual or a group of people. The CO stands for corona, the VI for virus and the D for disease. COVID-19 was first detected late last year.

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