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Did WHO skip ‘Xi’ variant name to avoid offending China’s communist dictator?

Although the WHO did not confirm they were avoiding a slight towards the Chinese leader, they did say they were looking to “avoid causing offence, generally.”

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Two letters of the Greek alphabet, ‘nu’ and ‘xi’, were skipped in naming the new COVID-19 variant omicron to “avoid offence” said the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a statement provided to the American Press, the WHO gave its public reasons as to why it avoided both letters.

“‘Nu’ is too easily confounded with ‘new,’ and ‘Xi’ was not used because it is a common last name” the WHO said.

On Friday, the WHO deemed the new COVID-19 virus a variant of concern (VOC) and labelled it ‘Omicron.’

The new variant was first reported to WHO by South African scientists, but has been identified in other countries as well.

Although the WHO had been following the Greek alphabet when naming newly discovered variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the choice to use the name “Omicron” by WHO sparked debate on social media as to whether Xi was skipped to avoid offending Xi Jinping, China’s communist strongman since 2012.

Throughout the pandemic, the WHO has been sharply criticized for its deference to the Chinese Communist Party, advocating against limiting travel with China early on in the pandemic and praising China for its handling of the crisis, despite mounting evidence that China was involved in the outbreak of the virus and in covering up its early spread.

According to WHO pledge data, China’s financial contributions to the agency have increased in recent years by 52% from 2014 to 2019 to approximately $86 million.

Although the WHO did not confirm they were avoiding a slight towards the Chinese leader, they did say they were looking to “avoid causing offence, generally.”

The WHO highlighted a document released in 2015 stating the agency’s “best practices for naming disease suggest avoiding ‘causing offence to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.’”

This marks the first time the agency has skipped over Greek letters in its naming process for COVID variants. Alpha, beta, gamma and delta have all been used thus far to indicate current VOCs with omicron being the next in line. Lambda, kappa and mu have been used to indicate a “variant of interest” (VOI) which are considered less serious.

The newly discovered variant has now been identified in a number of countries, including Canada.

Early research shows Omicron has a high number of mutations in the COVID-19 spike protein and preliminary evidence suggests there is a possible “increased risk of reinfection” compared to other VOCs.

While it’s too early to say whether the new variant will be more severe than of VOCs, the WHO confirmed Monday scientists around the world are working to determine whether the variant is more transmissible or dangerous.

In a statement on the WHO website, the agency said the Greek alphabet system for naming variants was chosen “after wide consultation and a review of many potential naming systems.”

The WHO said the labels are not meant to replace existing scientific names but these names “can be difficult to say and recall, and are prone to misreporting.”

“As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatizing and discriminatory. To avoid this and to simplify public communications, WHO encourages national authorities, media outlets and others to adopt these new labels.”

Labels for VOIs and VOCs can be found on the WHO website.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Andrew Red Deer

    November 30, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Why would anyone want to live in a country that murders three thousand of its own citizens and then covers up the deed? From Tibet to Tiananmen square, This country is top down evil. Communism ALWAYS eats its own and ALWAYS kills its own.

  2. Claudette Leece

    November 30, 2021 at 6:24 am

    Fauci is the Patron Saint of Wuhan

  3. John Lankers

    November 29, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    When Xi says ‘jump’ our western puppets ask ‘how high’.

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Ottawa press gallery discusses letting Chinese propaganda agency in

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

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Officials with the Parliamentary Press Gallery held a behind closed doors meeting on Tuesday to talk about letting reporters from Xinhau, the Chinese Community Party’s propaganda agency, into the club, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The gallery is not bound by any outside political considerations,” said gallery president Catherine Levesque of the National Post. 

“We are doing our due diligence to ensure Xinhua meets certain criteria and we will be making a decision shortly.”

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

“Membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery allows access to the secure physical buildings of the parliamentary precinct and the opportunity to directly question individuals who drive and shape public policy,” gallery directors wrote in a 2020 code Journalistic Principles And Practices.

“As a result, accreditation is a privilege, not a right.”

Xinhua had been a member until 2020 when its press pass lapsed.

The Department of National Defence in 2012 blacklisted the agency from attending its press briefings, and a Xinhua correspondent in 2012 disclosed he was asked to maintain surveillance on Chinese dissidents in Canada.

The gallery would not discuss the Xinhua application but the gallery code states members must “respect the rights of people involved in the news.”

The Commons by a unanimous 266-0 vote last February 22 condemned China for human rights atrocities including the genocide of its Uyghur Muslim community. MPs also voted to petition the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing.

“We need to move forward, not just as a country but as a world, on recognizing the human rights violations that are going on in China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier told reporters.

“This is an issue that matters deeply to me, to all Canadians, and we will continue to work with our partners and allies on taking it seriously.”

Xinhua was originally granted Press Gallery membership in 1964 at the request of then-Foreign Minister Paul Martin Sr.

“It is a step in the direction of mutual understanding between Canada and mainland China,” Martin said at the time. Membership was approved in a press credentials swap that saw the Communist Party permit the Globe & Mail to open a Beijing bureau.

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PHA head says cellphone snooping fears unwarranted

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

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The president of the Public Health Agency (PHA) says Canadians need not fret over the fact his organization snooped on 33 million cellphone users, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

“No personal information was asked or was received,” Kochhar told the Commons health committee.

“No individually identifiable data is contained in any part of the work.”

The Commons ethics committee last Friday voted 10-0 to examine the data collection program using cellphone tower tracking. The PHA said it sought the information to monitor compliance with lockdown orders.

“The actual reason why we collected this data is reliable, timely and relevant public health data comes out of it for other policy and decision making,” said Kochhar.

“This is population-level mobility data analysis. This is what we have collected.

“That would help us to understand the possible link between the movement of populations within Canada and the impact on COVID-19. We did that in terms of a very clear way of getting that open and transparent means of collection. We never, ever actually know when we use that information that it is individually identifiable. It is aggregated data.”

MPs on the ethics committee earlier noted cellphone users were never told the PHA was collecting the cellphone tracking data. Conservative MP John Brassard (Barrie-Innisfil, Ont.), noted the scope of the monitoring was only detailed when the Agency issued a December 17 notice to contractors to expand the program.

“It becomes increasingly concerning that government is seemingly using this pandemic as a means and a cause for massive overreach into the privacy rights of Canadians,” said Brassard.

“As parliamentarians, it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we protect those rights, that there is proper scrutiny and oversight.”

“The Public Health Agency was collecting data without the knowledge of Canadians, effectively doing it in secret. We need to know what security measures were in place to protect the privacy rights of Canadians.

“It is vital we do not allow the COVID response to create a permanent backslide of the rights and freedoms of Canadians including their fundamental right to privacy.”

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Health Minister Duclos has no info on $150-million COVID contract to SNC-Lavalin

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

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SNC-Lavalin was given a $150-million sole-source contract to provide “urgently” needed field hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic — but Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos doesn’t seem to know much about it, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The field hospitals were never used.

“This is obviously in support of the needs at the request of provinces and territories,” said Duclos.

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

“What is the status of the mobile field hospitals SNC-Lavalin was contracted to produce?” asked Conservative MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman (Hastings-Lennox, Ont.).

“It was an example of the significant level of preparation that we did throughout the crisis,” replied Duclos.

“Why have the field hospitals from SNC-Lavalin not been deployed?” asked Kramp-Neuman.

Duclos replied he had no information on “the exact nature of the state of that equipment.”

“Did the Prime Minister’s Office approve of this?” asked MP Kramp-Neuman.

“That’s a public works question,” replied Duclos.

“We’re not getting a lot of clarity here,” said MP Kramp-Neuman, adding: “The buck stops with you. Sadly, I recognize you don’t have all the answers to everything, but it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a lot of answers to anything.”

An unidentified Department of Public Works manager finalized the SNC-Lavalin contract on April 9, 2020 without notice to other bidders.

“A public call for tenders was not issued due to the urgency of the need as a result of the pandemic,” said an internal e-mail.

However, as late as Sep. 9, 2020, the Québec contractor had still not fixed a delivery date, according to staff emails.

Paul Thompson, deputy minister of public works, Tuesday said he knew little of the contract details.

“I personally don’t have all the details at my fingertips,” said Thompson.

SNC-Lavalin was paid to supply field hospitals equipped with 200 hospital beds, ventilators, masks, medical gowns and ten days’ worth of medication, back-up generators, water and oxygen tanks, X-ray machines, shower bays and latrines.

“The self-sufficiency of the unit makes it extremely flexible for deployment where the need is greatest in Canada,” said a memo.

Internal records dated Oct. 13, 2020 disclosed no one wanted the field hospitals.

The department said spending included $2 million for design work and millions more on warehousing medical supplies for presumed future use.

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