WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a name was decided that “did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and which is also pronounceable and related to the disease”.
He said at a press conference on Tuesday: “Having a name matters to prevent the use of other names that can be inaccurate or stigmatising.
“It also gives us a standard format to use for any future coronavirus outbreaks.”
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO)February 11, 2020
It comes as China reported 108 more deaths from the virus on Tuesday, taking the total toll in the country to 1,016.
There were 2,478 new confirmed cases on the mainland on Monday, down from 3,062 on the previous day and bringing the total to 42,638, the country's National Health Commission said.
There are 319 cases in 24 other countries and territories, according to the WHO and Chinese health officials. Two people have died outside China, in the Hong Kong and the Philippines.
In the UK, as of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 1,358 people have been tested for Covid-19, of which 1,350 were confirmed negative and eight positive, the Department of Health said.
The WHO asked countries to be "as aggressive as possible" in fighting the newly named virus.
"If the world doesn't want to wake up and consider the virus as public enemy number one, I don't think we will learn from our lessons," Dr Ghebreyesus said in Geneva.
"We are still in containment strategy and should not allow the virus to have a space to have local transmission."
In a statement issued earlier on Twitter, he said that, with 99 per cent of coronavirus cases in China, "this remains very much an emergency for that country, but one that holds a very grave threat for the rest of the world".
Dr Michael Ryan, executive director at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, said: “This is by no means, compared to other events, a massive ‘super spreading’ event.
“This is an unusual event and it is a wake-up call because there may be other circumstances in which this disease can spread like this, so we need to study those circumstances for sure.”
It comes as coronavirus “super spreader” Steve Walsh, who is feared to have infected at least 11 other people, told how he is "fully recovered" from the virus.
Mr Walsh, 53, a Scout leader, is thought to have passed on the virus after a business trip in Singapore, stopping off at a chalet in France on his way back to Britain. He remains in quarantine at St Thomas' Hospital in London.
Speaking from hospital, Mr Walsh, he said in a statement: "I would like to thank the NHS for their help and care - whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus.”