Ever wondered why the latest viral threat is called Omicron… well here’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel.
We have the World Health Organisation to thank for improving our Greek… and Zeus knows I’ve forgotten almost all my Classical Greek from school.
And anything that shines a light on Heroic Hellas and its culture has my vote.
The WHO plumped for the naming system so as to remove stigma from countries after the media jumped on the first Covid variant.
And our news gatherers lazily called it the South African variant.
Now we here at TravelTravelTravel being internationalists fully support their motives, particularly because jingoism and racism can run as wild as pandemics.
And it is to the Greeks that we have turned for wisdom and philosophy.
Lay off the Spanish
Back in 1918 when the last global pandemic broke out it was tagged the Spanish Flu, the name by which it is still referred.
And this wasn’t because it broke out in the Iberian Peninsula (we still don’t know its origins).
Rather it was because that was where the information first started emanating about the virus.
On account of Spain being neutral in the First World War and its media generously sharing the information.
While, of course, the virus was taking its toll across the world.
And war-concerned countries were killing information at home just as freely as they were needlessly destroying each other.
As it is the first reported death was in the USA but let’s not quibble.
I only say this to set the record straight and correct a historical wrong in favour of my Spanish friends.
And we well know that they have had their own troubles to seek either natural or political as is all too real in one of our favourite Spanish destinations, the Canaries.
And my last port of call in Spain, Tenerife.
Now, Omicron as it’s coming back to me now is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet which means that w’ve had 13 variants.
Delta we all know, and this pesky letter put paid to my trip to Oregon at the last minute…
And led me to pull out of the earlier working assignment to Las Vegas.
But beta, gamma and epsilon thankfully passed us by.
As did their friends zeta, eta and theta… who sound like the intake of a modern-day creche.
The next one barely registered an iota (and yes Greek letters have entered our lexicon before all this pandemic nonsense).
Kappa (no, not an American college sorority), lam(b)da (not a Tex-Mex dance), mu, nu (the other discarded Teletubbies) and Xi (a Chinese dynasty) soon followed unheralded.
Until we got to our Omicron.
Omicron, not Armageddon
And although our leaders are scaring the bejaysus out of his by interchanging Omicron with Armageddon it’s not.
The narrative is that it’s more infectious but haven’t we been told that the vaccines and the boosters are there to protect us.
And is it just me who is cynical.
That at a time when our politicians want to distract us from restricting our liberties the seriousness of Omicron gets ramped up.
And so we in the UK are told that we must now get a PCR test on arrival back in the UK and self-isolate until we get the result.
Which again sounds scary until you realise that we’re all Working From Home now anyway.
Isn’t it about time that we challenged these assumptions.
Particularly as everything our politicians have told us since the pandemic was called has blown up in their faces?
Democracies on trial
Now we might not go as far as Socrates who attacked Greek democracy (roughly translated as power of the people) in favour of meritocracy or elite rule.
But it is well seen that democracies are on trial.
And while it was the legacy of the First World War which all begun with the assassination of a royal in Sarajevo in the Balkans which heralded in the Fascists of the Twenties.
And of course the Wall Street Crash.
But it was also the failure of democracies in a crisis. We have been warned.
The good news
The good news is that there are only another nine Greek letters to go so we should be through all of this soon.
That’s the Alpha to Omega of variants and travel then.
See you on a plane or ship soon.