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Chinese health officials label new coronavirus NCP

Chinese health officials have temporarily designated the recent strain of coronavirus the Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia, or NCP.

The country’s National Health Commission announced the name at a news conference on Saturday in an attempt to give people an alternative to referring to the illness as Wuhan coronavirus, after the city where it is believed to have originated in an open-air market.

Locals have expressed frustration with the city’s name being associated with the deadly virus and the resultant stigma, prompting officials to announce the temporary name, which will be replaced by a permanent designation at a later date, CNN reported.

The announcement came the same day that officials in the United Kingdom announced the last evacuation flight out of Wuhan — carrying more than 200 passengers including British nationals and government officials — had departed. Similar evacuations have already been undertaken by the governments of the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and Japan.

Beijing, meanwhile, has announced seven new “medical-related crimes” it intends to crack down on amid the epidemic, including assaulting medical personnel, refusing medical checks and damaging or destroying property at medical facilities. Violators will face arrest or jail time and possible capital punishment. The government has also opened a new hospital in Wuhan that can hold 1,500 patients, CNN reported.


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