WHO names coronavirus variants with Greek alphabet

The World Health Organization has assigned letters from the Greek alphabet to identify coronavirus variants, in order to prevent discrimination against a source country.

The WHO announced the new labels on Monday, and urged people to avoid referring to the variants by the names of countries where they first emerged.

Among those listed as "Variants of Concern" by the WHO, the one first confirmed in Britain has been named "Alpha." The variant identified in South Africa is "Beta," the one confirmed in Brazil is "Gamma," and the one that emerged in India is "Delta."

WHO officials say existing scientific names for the variants, such as B.1.1.7, will continue to be used by researchers.

But officials want others -- such as government authorities and media -- to use the new labels. They say calling the variants by place names is "stigmatizing and discriminatory."

Former US President Donald Trump drew China's anger by repeatedly referring to the new coronavirus that was confirmed in Wuhan, as the China virus. Some blame his use of the term for provoking violence and hate crimes against Asian Americans in the US.