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Staying alert

  • Published
    22nd Dec, 2023

Context:

The recent increase in cases of sub variant of COVID 19 named JN.1 in India needs a sustained focus on genome sequencing for novel variants.

Characteristics of JN.1 Variant

  • Rapid Global Spread: JN.1 variant, a descendant of Omicron lineage, has spread globally, constituting over 27% of cases. Originating in Luxembourg, it carries the additional immune-evading mutation (L455S) in the spike protein.
  • Dominance and Transmissibility: JN.1 is becoming the dominant strain globally with high transmissibility. Despite increased immune evasion, no major outbreaks reported; winter season may facilitate further spread.
  • WHO Classification and Severity: Recently classified by WHO as a separate variant of interest.

Indian Scenario and Response

  • Detection and Cases in India: First JN.1 case detected in Kerala during routine surveillance; Goa reports the highest cases (19).
  • Increase in COVID-19 Cases: India witnesses a surge in COVID-19 cases in the last fortnight.
  • Surveillance and Genome Sequencing: Revised guidelines test all ILI and SARI cases for COVID-19, sequencing positive cases.

Public Health Strategies and Unity

  • Masking Recommendations: Universal masking not mandated, but high-risk individuals urged to wear masks in enclosed spaces.
  • Testing Integrity and Surveillance: Encourages unbiased testing and reporting without shaming states reporting more cases or novel variants.
  • Avoiding Communalization and Politicization: Stresses the need to avoid communalizing or politicizing public health issues.
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