Health and Science

Watch: World Health Organization provides an update on the coronavirus outbreak

Key Points
  • As of Wednesday, more than 45,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in over two dozen countries, resulting in at least 1,115 deaths almost exclusively in China.
  • The WHO on Tuesday announced the new name for the virus: COVID-19.

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World Health Organization officials are holding a press conference Wednesday to update the public on the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more people than SARS.

As of Wednesday, more than 45,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported in over two dozen countries, resulting in least 1,115 deaths almost exclusively in China. The WHO declared the virus a global health emergency last month, a rare designation that helps the international agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak.

The WHO on Tuesday announced the new name for the virus: COVID-19. The CO stands for corona, the VI for virus and the D for disease, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, announced.

"Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatizing," he said. "It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreak."

WHO officials also said Tuesday that the virus likely originated in bats and then jumped to an "intermediate host" before infecting humans. Scientists studying the virus' genetic sequence found that the new virus is very similar to other coronaviruses found in bats, Dr. Sylvie Briand, head of WHO's Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness division, said.

But when scientists went to the seafood market in Wuhan, they "didn't find so many bats," Briand said. It "requires more research."

The WHO's global research and innovation forum met for the first time Tuesday at the organization's headquarters in Geneva and the forum concludes Wednesday.

Attendees include representatives of China and other member states, infectious disease experts, bioethicists, and major research funders, according to the preliminary agenda. The mission of the forum is to establish a common understanding of the virus and to agree upon priorities and governance framework moving forward.

To see the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit CNBC's live updates here.