I HAVE a strange feeling of familiarity as if I’ve been here before. I am sitting down to write a newspaper column as we hear about a new type of virus leading to extra restrictions on our freedoms.

Why does it have to be that part of the last few years repeating? Why can’t we have a repeat of that funny spell when a well-known chicken fast-food outlet ran out of chicken? Or when Nicki Minaj sent a tweet that made us all laugh at her cousin’s friend’s trouble sitting down? Those were happier times.

Instead we find ourselves hearing bad news from a Downing Street briefing. A shudder goes down my spine when I hear the words, “Next slide please”, even if it’s from a child being polite to its parents in the playground, I still get the shakes.

This situation is caused by the Omicron variant. We know that the system names the new mutations of the coronavirus after letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid any stigma caused by naming the strains after their country of discovery.

No one seemed to complain when the first mutation was named the Kent variant, although DC Comics may have tried to sue.

You can say what you like about this pandemic but it’s teaching us a lot about the Greek alphabet. It’s not teaching us the correct order. It could have been named after the Greek letter Nu. The reason they didn’t pick that letter was to avoid confusion because it sound like new.

We’d be OK for this strain. If you called it the Nu variant or the new variant you’d be on the money.

The next mutation would have been the problem. If you said you were worried about the new variant people would say, “You don’t have to worry, that’s the old one. It’s the new on you want to worried about.” Life would turn into an Abbott and Costello sketch.

The other letter they skipped is the Xi. There’s a theory they jumped that so it wasn’t named after the leader of China. We can also expect Greggs to be annoyed when the Pi variant shows up.

Names aside, we find ourselves reading the same old headlines. A plea has gone out to ask people to not be aggressive with shop workers and public transport employees because of the mask mandate.

It’s worth remembering that those workers are not the ones who created the rules, they’re just stood near you when you have to stick to it. I remember seeing angry scenes in shops last year. Let’s hope we’re not reliving every part of 2020.