Politics

Did WHO name new COVID variant Omnicron to avoid upsetting China?

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You say Xi or Nu? We say Omnicron.

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The Daily Mail is speculating the new COVID-19 South African variant skipped two letters of the Greek alphabet — namely Xi and Nu — and was named Omnicron by the World Health Organization to avoid angering Beijing, specifically Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Up until now, the WHO has been using Greek letters such as Alpha, Beta and Delta to describe the variants.

However, there are allegations the president of China heavily influences WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian minister whose country has benefited from Chinese investment.

Omicron has already been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

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A WHO spokesman told the New York Post that it avoided Nu because it feared “people would think it was the new variant, rather than a name.”

As for Xi, they said: “And Xi because it’s a common surname and we have agreed (to) naming rules that avoid using place names, people’s names, animals, etc., to avoid stigma.”



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