India issues advisory to states amid uptick in Covid cases, JN1 subvariant

Karnataka has made masks compulsory for senior citizens and those with respiratory conditions


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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Published: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 9:25 PM

Amid the recent uptick in Covid cases and detection of JN.1 subvariant in Kerala, the Indian central government has issued an advisory to the state governments urging them to make adequate health arrangements.

"Considering the upcoming festive season, there is a need to put in place requisite public health measures and other arrangements to minimise the risk of increase in transmission of the disease by adherence to the maintenance of respiratory hygiene", read the advisory.

The centre further directed the states to monitor the occurrence of respiratory diseases district-wise.

"Ensure monitoring and reporting of district-wise influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory illness cases in all health facilities on a regular basis including in the Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) portal, for detecting the early rising trend of cases", it said.

The central government also directed the state administration to ensure Covid testing as per the set guidelines.

"Ensure a higher number of RT-PCR tests and send the positive samples for genome sequencing to the Indian SARS COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) laboratories so as to enable timely detection of new variants, if any," the advisory read further.

"Promote community awareness to seek their continued support in managing COVID-19, including adherence to respiratory hygiene", it added.

The government of Karnataka has ordered people over 60 years of age, those with heart and kidney diseases, and those with fever, phlegm, and colds to wear masks compulsorily amid the JN.1 subvariant scare.

Earlier on Saturday, ANI reported first about the Covid-19 subvariant JN.1 detected in Kerala, which is a descendant of BA.2.86.The India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a network of genomic laboratories, has been actively monitoring the genomic aspects of Covid-19 in India. JN.1 was first detected in September 2023 in the United States.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the surge in respiratory diseases and the new JN.1 Covid-19 sub-variant, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the virus is evolving and changing and urged the member states to continue with strong surveillance and sequence sharing.

The global body also shared a video of its Covid-19 technical lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, who explained the reason for the recent surges and what precautions can be taken.


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