India records 656 new covid-19 cases

The Union Health Ministry reported a daily increase of 656 new COVID-19 cases in India, resulting in the active caseload rising from 3,420 to 3,742, as indicated on Sunday. Over the last 24 hours, Kerala recorded one fatality, pushing the national death toll to 533,333, with a case fatality rate of 1.18%.

Kerala, initially identified as the location of the JN.1 COVID sub-variant, registered the highest number of active cases in a single day, reaching 126. The ministry noted a surge in daily active caseloads across various states, including Telangana (11), Gujarat (10), Delhi (16), Maharashtra (35), Karnataka (96), and Gujarat (11).

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, JN.1 symptoms closely resemble seasonal influenza, making it challenging to differentiate from other Omicron sub-variants. Typical symptoms include fever, nasal discharge, cough, occasional diarrhea, and severe body ache, with an average recovery period of 2-5 days.

Dr. Lalit Kant, former ICRM scientist, observed, “JN.1 has a higher potential for faster spread compared to BA.2.86, attributed to an additional protein spike. However, the severity is not expected to match that caused by the Delta variant.\”

Dr. NK Arora, head of India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium, stated that, despite the surge in cases, no additional vaccine dose is presently required for the JN.1 sub-variant. JN.1, with an extra spike protein, exhibits higher transmissibility compared to the long-existing BA.2.86 variant in India.

JN.1, a sub-variant of the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2, is a highly mutated strain derived from the BA.2.86 variant, also known as Pirola. The BA.2.86 lineage, first identified in India in August, carries over 30 mutations in the spike protein.

JN.1 and BA.2.86 share similar characteristics, differing in just one feature.

Earlier this year, in May, the WHO declassified COVID-19 as a global health emergency. Concerning the JN.1 variant, the WHO recently designated it as a “variant of interest\” due to its rapidly increasing spread but assessed its global public threat as “low.\”

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