Kent printing firm called Omicron say they will not be changing their name because of new variant


Bosses of a printing firm named ‘Omicron’ say they will not change the name of their business – despite now sharing it with the latest Covid variant. 

Omicron Reprographics has been running for more than 25 years in Canterbury in Kent.

But the small printing shop is now no longer the most talked about ‘Omicron’ in the cathedral city since emergence of the new Covid strain – named after the 15th Greek letter.

Owners Mark Fawcett-Jones and director Dave Loveridge say they have been inundated with calls and messages from surprised customers following the naming of the new variant by the World Health Organisation.

But they say they will not change the shop’s name, which is also shares with a 1963 Italian sci-fi film.

Instead they have decided to embrace it, by dressing up in Breaking Bad-style costumes and adding ‘not the variant’ in email signatures.

They also hope the wider use of the name will mean customers will spell it properly, ‘having corrected people for the last 13 years’.

Mr Loveridge said: ‘We’ve been asked by a few people if we’d considered changing the name, but we haven’t.

Omicron Reprographics has been running for more than 25 years in Canterbury in Kent. But the small printing shop is now no longer the most talked about ‘Omicron’ in the cathedral city since emergence of the new Covid strain – named after the 15th Greek letter

Owners Mark Fawcett-Jones and director Dave Loveridge say they have been inundated with calls and messages from surprised customers following the naming of the new variant by the World Health Organisation. Pictured: Omicron in Canterbury, Kent

Bosses say they will not change the name of their shop and have instead embraced it, by dressing up in Breaking Bad-style costumes and adding ‘not the variant’ in email signatures

Why the name Omicron for the latest variant of concern? 

Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet – which the World Health Organisation has been using to categorise new Covid variants of concern.

At the start of the pandemic the organisation urged a change from using the names of countries, warning it could lead to countries being ‘stigmatised’. 

Previous variants such as the Kent strain were renamed Alpha, while the current dominant strain, the Indian variant, was changed to Delta.

The previous variant was Mu. But WHO decided to skip the next two, Nu and Xi, and move on to Omicron.

According to the WHO, Nu was skipped because it was too easily confused with ‘New’ while Xi was skipped because it is a common surname in China.

Some have accused the WHO of skipping Xi as not to offend China’s leader Xi Jinping. 

 

‘We’ve had the business since 2008, and it’s been around for 25 years, so we’re well-known throughout the south east. We’re hoping we won’t need to change the name.

‘It’s our web address and email address. We’re forever having to spell it to people as they get the name wrong all the time.

‘We’re hoping that now they’re going to get right, having corrected people for the last 13 years.’

Despite this, he has not witnessed a drop in trade.

Mr Loveridge continued: ‘There’s been no impact so far and we’ve had quite a busy day.

‘If people believed it came from us and that we’d started it, then maybe we would have to consider changing the name.

‘We’re having current and former customers getting in touch and saying “isn’t that strange they’ve chosen your name?”. The phone’s just lit up.’

Omicron is the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet – which the World Health Organisation has been using to categorise new Covid variants of concern.

At the start of the pandemic the organisation urged a change from using the names of countries, warning it could lead to countries being ‘stigmatised’. 

Previous variants such as the Kent strain were renamed Alpha, while the current dominant strain, the Indian variant, was changed to Delta.

The previous variant was Mu. But WHO decided to skip the next two, Nu and Xi, and move on to Omicron.

According to the WHO, Nu was skipped because it was too easily confused with ‘New’ while Xi was skipped because it is a common surname in China.

Tube mask crackdown begins: Enforcement officers order commuters to wear face coverings 

The crackdown on mask-flouters in London began today as Tube officials threatened to fine non-compliant commuters £200 if they refuse to cover their faces.

Under Covid restrictions which came into force at 4am this morning, facemasks are again compulsory on public transport, in shops and settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers in England.

Those caught flouting the restrictions will be fined £200 for a first offence, which will double on each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £6,400.

Although many commuters in London wore facemasks on their way to work this morning, many others on packed carriages chose to ignore the law.

Some Transport for London officials were seen rebuking mask-flouters and urging them to cover up as they warned that they would be fined if they were caught breaking the restriction again.

Writing on Twitter, TfL said: ‘You must wear a face covering on all our services unless exempt. Our officers will continue enforcing the requirement, including reintroduction of powers for TfL and police to issue £200 fines for first offence.’

 

Some have accused the WHO of skipping Xi as not to offend China’s leader Xi Jinping. 

Omicron Reprographics would not be the first business to have faced calls to change names.

Corona beer denied that it would change branding in the wake of the pandemic.

When the militant terrorist group ISIS gained notoriety – several businesses, bands and a translation agency had to change their names to distance themselves.  

It comes as the new head of NHS Test and Trace today warned Britons not to socialise before Christmas ‘unless you need to’ after Scotland announced three more cases of the Omicron super strain, bringing the UK’s total to 14. 

Dr Jenny Harries, one of No10’s chief health experts, issued the stark warning as she admitted that vaccines are likely to be less effective against the strain, which she said could have ‘significant impact on our hospitals’.

She hinted that work from home could be the next measure to be reintroduced if the outbreak starts to grow, adding: ‘If we see surges, then working from home will be a good thing to do.’  

The Government’s new rules on face masks and self-isolation to slow the spread of the variant came into effect in England from 4am this morning, which mandate coverings are worn on public transport, in shops, beauty salons and hairdressers.

But Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan today urged people in the capital to wear face masks in pubs and restaurants, deviating from No10’s own guidance.

Nationally, the restrictions are to be reviewed again in three weeks, which means Britons could be stung with last-minute curbs just days before Christmas. 

Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street press conference at 4pm this afternoon to give an update on the Covid situation and lay out the suite of measures that kicked in this morning to tackle the variant. 

The Prime Minister this morning defended England’s new coronavirus rules, which he claimed are ‘proportionate and responsible’.

‘The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant,’ he said.

‘Vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted.’

The number of Omicron cases identified in the UK has now hit 14 after Scotland announced three more this morning, bringing its total to nine, while England has discovered five. 

Britain yesterday expanded its current booster rollout for all adults over 18. Even though the vaccines are expected to be much weaker against Omicron, it is hoped that topping up everyone’s immunity to very high levels will offer an extra line of defence against the incoming wave.  

Head of Moderna warns ‘it will be MONTHS’ before there is a specific jab to fight Omicron 

Covid vaccine maker Moderna warned today that it will take months to develop an Omicron-specific booster jab as Scotland detected three more cases of the mutant strain and Boris Johnson prepares to give an update on the variant at a Downing Street press briefing.

Stephane Bancel, chief executive at Massachusetts-based Moderna, said he expects the highly-evolved coronavirus variant to cause a ‘material drop’ in the effectiveness of existing vaccines, warning that the result was ‘not going to be good’. 

He warned that it will take until summer 2022 for Moderna to develop a new vaccine and scale up manufacturing to vaccinate entire populations. 

Scientists say it will take two weeks to truly work out how effective jabs are against Omicron, which has twice as many mutations on its spike protein as Delta. 

The strain is expected to make current vaccines significantly weaker at preventing infections, but it’s less clear how it will impact hospitalisations and deaths is still unknown. 



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