New covid variant JN.1: India logs 21 cases; Know mask guidelines, other detail

Following the reported emergence of the JN.1 Covid variant in India, the nation saw a surge in Covid cases, recording 2,669 active cases within a 24-hour period on Thursday. The Union Health Ministry specifically highlighted an increase in Covid cases in states such as Kerala, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Karnataka. Dr. V K Paul, a member of NITI Aayog (health), revealed that India has identified 21 cases of the Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1.

The JN.1 (BA. variant, which originated in late 2023, is a descendant of the BA.2.86 lineage (Pirola) of the coronavirus. Here are 10 updates on the JN.1 Covid variant:

  1. Two Covid-19-related deaths were reported in Karnataka on Wednesday, with uncertainty regarding whether these fatalities were linked to the new subvariant JN.1.
  2. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya emphasized in a meeting with health department representatives that the Covid situation is ongoing. He urged states to closely monitor emerging cases, symptoms, and case severity to plan an appropriate public health response.
  3. Hospitals nationwide are on high alert due to the rising trend of Covid cases. Dr. Rohit Kumar, Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, stated that they are conducting COVID tests and sending samples for genome sequencing.
  4. A 41-year-old individual tested positive for the new Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1 in Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra.
  5. Kerala reported 300 new active cases of Covid-19 and three deaths on December 20, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  6. The West Bengal Health Department continues surveillance of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) in line with central guidelines.
  7. The Haryana government announced that RT-PCR tests will be conducted for Influenza-like Illnesses and Severe Acute Respiratory Infections.
  8. The Delhi government is on alert following the entry of the new Covid variant into the country. Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj mentioned a review of oxygen cylinders, ventilator beds, and other requirements.
  9. The Karnataka government issued an advisory for people above 60 years, those with comorbidities, pregnant women, and lactating mothers to wear face masks when outdoors and strictly avoid closed, poorly ventilated spaces, and crowded areas.
  10. The World Health Organization classified JN.1 as a separate \”variant of interest\” due to its rapidly increasing spread but noted a \”low\” global public health risk. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is actively engaged in genome sequencing of the new JN.1 variant.

Regarding the JN.1 Covid variant: JN.1 (BA. variant emerged in late 2023 and is a descendant of the BA.2.86 lineage (Pirola) of SARS-CoV-2. The BA.2.86 lineage, first identified in August 2023, is phylogenetically distinct from the circulating SARS-CoV-2 Omicron XBB lineages, including EG.5.1 and HK.3. BA.2.86 carries more than 30 mutations in the spike (5) protein, indicating a high potential for immune evasion. JN.1 was first detected in Denmark and Israel in late July 2023.

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