Scientists are alarmed by the new variant of Covid-19, JN.1, which is likely to be more infectious. (Credits: Shutterstock)
Singapore has recorded a fresh surge with 56,000 more cases in a week December 3 to 9
A case of JN.1, a sub-variant of Covid-19, has been found in Kerala as part of the ongoing routine surveillance by INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium), a senior official from ICMR has said.
The case was detected in an RT-PCR positive sample from Karakulam in Thiruvananthapuram district of the southern state on December 8.
INSACOG’s advisory board co-chair Dr Saumitra Das has said the growing Covid-19 variant isn’t anything ‘alarming’ in India and urged the government to ramp up surveillance at airports and fix the system of Covid-19 testing, once again.
Meanwhile, Karnataka has currently lodged 58 active Covid cases and testing has been increased in the hospitals. India on Sunday reported 335 new Covid-19 infections while the number of active cases increased to 1,701, according to the Union health ministry.
Lineage JN.1 was first found in Luxembourg and as per the latest numbers, it has been spotted in more than 40 countries.
Here is all you need to know about the global scare leading to the JN.1 variant, a sub-lineage of BA2. 86 Omicron.
What is JN.1 strain of Coronavirus?
The JN.1 strain of Coronavirus is closely related to the BA.2.86 variant, also referred to as Pirola, which has been detected in the US and China recently.
The JN.1 strain, first detected in September, is a highly mutated variant of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, which emerged in 2021 and was on rise in the US, UK, China and parts of Europe.
It features an extra mutation on its spike protein. The variant has the capability to spread rapidly and evade immunity, highlighting the need for continued monitoring and caution in response to the evolving situation in India.
Where it is Spreading?
United States: The variant JN.1 comprises an estimated 15–29% of the cases in the United States as of December 8, according to American health agency CDC. The health agency projected that JN.1 will continue to increase and is currently the fastest-growing variant in the United States. Meanwhile, 17 states have reported “high” or “very high” levels of respiratory illness activity as Covid-19 and other flu hospitalizations have increased, according to ABC News.
Singapore: Singapore has recorded a fresh surge with 56,000 more cases in a week December 3 to 9. The Health Ministry has issued an advisory for citizens and travellers. The weekly cases rose to 56,043 in December 3-9 from 32,035 cases in the previous week.
China: Chinese mainland has detected seven mild and asymptomatic cases of contracting the Covid-19 subvariant JN.1 as of December 10. Chinese authorities claimed that the prevalence level of JN.1 is currently ‘very low’ in that country. However, they refused to rule out the possibility of it becoming the dominant strain in China due to factors including imported cases.
Other Countries: The Covid subvariant has also been reported in countries including the UK, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.
Worry During Christmas
As the festive season begins, scientists are predicting that cases will rise as more people will travel and socialise during the Christmas season.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged the member states to continue with strong surveillance and sequence sharing.
In Karnataka, Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao has said that health officials have been instructed to conduct mock drills, hospitals have been asked to allocate ICU beds, and check the availability of oxygen and medicines.