If you’re wondering how to pronounce the name of the new variant, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
If you’ve never heard of the name, you aren’t alone. The name is actually part of the Greek alphabet naming system adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) to refer to variants earlier this year, following on from the Delta variant that we’ve all come to know and hate.
In case you didn’t know, Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet and has been assigned to the seventh variant to be labelled a ‘variant of concern’.
Twelve variants have been given Greek alphabet names, with two letters skipped by the WHO before it reached Omicron.
While the name sounds a little complex, it is actually a much simpler version of the variant’s scientific name, which WHO says ‘can be difficult to say and recall, and [media outlets] are prone to misreporting’.
How much harder can the technical name be to remember?
Well, Omicron is also known as the SARS-CoV-2 variant: B.1.1.529. So, if you don’t want to sound like a Monster’s Inc character, calling a 23-19, you should probably make the effort to learn the new pronunciation.
It’s not as daunting as it seems and you don’t need to have studied Greek at school to get it right, as one Twitter user noted.
The user said:
Clearly, no one at BBC News did Greek at school, given the newsreaders’ mispronunciation of the new variant, which sounds like “ommicron”.
To be fair to the presenter, I don’t know many schools with a Greek GCSE option.
However, the user proceeds to answer what we’ve all been asking, how do you actually say Omicron?
According to the user, ‘The correct pronunciation is “oh-my-cron,” with the emphasis on the second syllable.
All jokes aside, it is important to use the new variant name, instead of referring to it by its geographical origin, which can be misleading and create stigma surrounding the origin area.
WHO’s advice for Omicron remains the same with other strains, stating, ‘Individuals are reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of COVID-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.’
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