In response to a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly in Kerala, the Union Health Ministry conducted a meeting on Wednesday (December 20) to address the situation.
Kerala has witnessed a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, reporting 292 new active cases and 3 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total active cases to 2311, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The surge is attributed to the Covid sub-variant JN.1, recently identified in Kerala.
India witnessed a notable rise in Covid-19 cases, recording 614 new infections in the past 24 hours, the highest since May 21, according to Union Health Ministry data.
The death toll reached 5,33,321.
On a positive note, 4,44,70,346 people have recovered, leading to a national recovery rate of 98.81%.
The case fatality rate is 1.19%. Additionally, the country has administered 220.67 crore Covid vaccine doses so far, according to the health ministry's website.
In the meeting held on Wednesday, central authorities reviewed the situation and formulated strategies to curb the rising numbers. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya led the meeting to address the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
Key points discussed included emphasizing the importance of vigilance against new strains of Covid-19 and promoting collaborative efforts between the Centre and states to manage the virus effectively.
This involves suggesting regular mock drills and the sharing of best practices among states.
States are instructed to monitor emerging evidence of Covid-19 cases and symptoms, tailoring public health responses accordingly.
They are also advised to send samples of positive cases to INSACOG labs for variant tracking.
#WATCH | On Centre's health meeting with all States/UTs,VK Paul, Member-health, Niti Aayog says, "Currently, there are around 2300 active cases of Covid 19 in the country. The upsurge is due to Covid JN.1 variant. There is no need to panic. Kerala, TN, Goa & Karnataka have cases.… pic.twitter.com/P3U2zpw7px— ANI (@ANI) December 20, 2023
State Health Minister Veena George reassured that despite the increase in COVID cases in Kerala, there's no cause for concern as the state is well-equipped to manage virus infections.
She highlighted the issuance of directives to ensure special facilities for COVID patients in hospitals.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George says, "No need of any worry. That is a sub-variant (COVID-19 sub-strain JN.1). Now it is detected. Two or three months back it was detected in Indians when they were tested at Singapore airport. It is existing in other parts of India. Kerala… pic.twitter.com/u7iiQoxaBJ— ANI (@ANI) December 17, 2023
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the JN.1 coronavirus strain a "variant of interest" on Tuesday, emphasizing that the current evidence indicates a low risk to public health from this strain.
Previously considered part of its parent lineage BA.2.86, JN.1 is now recognized as a distinct variant of interest by WHO.
The organisation affirmed that existing vaccines remain effective in safeguarding against severe illness and death caused by JN.1 and other prevailing variants of the COVID-19 virus.
The new coronavirus sub-variant JN.1 was first identified in a 79-year-old woman from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Detected in a sample from Karakulam on December 8, the woman had tested RT-PCR positive on November 18 and experienced mild Influenza Like Illness (ILI) symptoms, ultimately recovering from Covid-19.
JN.1 symptoms include mild fever, coughing, nasal discomfort, sore throat, runny nose, facial pain or pressure, headache, and gastrointestinal issues.
Considered a descendant of Omicron sub-variant BA.2.86 or Pirola, JN.1 was first detected in the United States in September 2023.
China reported seven infections of this sub-variant on December 15, according to Reuters.