Mumbai, November 28: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday named the new COVID-19 variant as B.1.1.529 -'Omicron', Jumping two Greek alphabets. WHO raised concern over 'Omicron' as it is a highly mutating variant.

The WHO has been typically naming COVID-19 variants in Greek alphabetical order for ease in terminology. However, the naming decision quickly sparked curiosity among the netizens as to why the predicted alphabets were skipped. By the prescribed method, the new variant was supposed to be named ‘Nu’ or ‘Xi’.  How Dangerous is Omicron Variant? South African Medical Association Says COVID-19 New Variant Causes 'Mild Disease'.

WHO official, On Saturday, told a media house that the naming was done "to avoid stigmatising a region." As per the WHO, 'Nu' can be easily misunderstood with 'new' and 'Xi' was avoided because it is a common surname. Paul Nuki, senior editor of The Telegraph tweeted "A WHO source confirmed the letters Nu and Xi of the Greek alphabet had been deliberately avoided. Nu had been skipped to avoid confusion with the word "new" and Xi had been skipped to "avoid stigmatising a region", they said. All pandemics inherently political!" (SIC)

Soon, it was speculated that the WHO skipped 'Nu' to avoid confusion with the word “new” and 'Xi' was skipped in an effort to avoid offending China, where the first COVID-19 case was found and China's President Xi Jinping.

Kai Kupferschmidt  Correspondent for Science Magazine Tweeted

WHO reported the first case of Omicron from South Africa on November 24. Later, similar cases were found in South Africa's Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Nov 28, 2021 10:41 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website