New sub variant JN.1 will not infect on mass level: Health Expert

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Amid a slight rise in the COVID-19 infections in the country, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday reviewed the preparedness of health facilities and services against Covid in the states.

India’s first JN.1 case was detected in a sample taken from a 79-year-old woman in Kerala with mild symptoms on December 8. Earlier, a traveller from Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirapalli district was found to be infected with the JN.1 variant in Singapore.

Meanwhile, India on Tuesday recorded 288 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases have increased to 1,970, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday. Kerala reported 115 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours taking the total active cases of the virus in the state to 1,749, as per the data.

However, health expert said that the new sub variant JN.1 will not infect a large number of people and the basic early measures will certainly help reduce the extent of spread. “From the standpoint of a healthy adult, the risk of death and severe disease is extremely low. However, for people who have significant associated conditions or who are frail and elderly, the same variant could produce a more severe form of disease or destabilise their conditions”, said Dr Rajeev Jayadevan.

He said that if this happens in a large number of people after a fast spread like in the case of the first omicron in January 2022, the burden of disease in the community and healthcare system will be high. “Since it is an all new variant, unlike recent versions of omicron that were predictable, it would be prudent to wait and carefully analyse the data as it comes in from around the world, including our country”, he added. Ahead of the festive season, the health experts have advised people to wear masks and avoid gatherings.