(WKBN) – There has been a lot of talk about the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

While health officials are still learning about its transmissibility and severity, many are wondering how the variant got its strange name.

It’s named after the Greek letter, according to a report in USA Today. It’s the 13th variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has received a Greek designation under the World Health Organization.

As variants began to emerge early on, many people were referring to them by the name of the country where they were first detected.

In May, WHO announced a new system for naming variants based on the Greek alphabet.

The variant rose to a “level of concern” by WHO based on the evidence presented that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes. 

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available, according to WHO.

On Wednesday, the first case of Omicron was detected in the U.S. A person in California became the first to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, a U.S. official told The Associated Press.