JN.1 COVID Variant Threatens India’s Holiday Season

India sees a sudden uptick in COVID-19 cases, prompting concerns ahead of the festive season

India sees a sudden uptick in COVID-19 cases

After a lull in infections, India is suddenly seeing an uptick in COVID cases, playing party-pooper ahead of the festive season. As of Tuesday (19 December), the country reported 260 new cases of COVID-19, taking the overall active case tally to 1,828. The rise in COVID cases coincides with the discovery of the first JN.1 subvariant in an elderly woman in Kerala, prompting fears amid the public and medical authorities.

States across the country are already ramping up their testing capabilities and the question that people are asking is will this affect their Christmas and New Year’s plans.

JN.1 subvariant in India

Early on 8 December, a 79-year-old woman was detected positive for carrying the JN.1 COVID variant. The patient, according to the doctors, had mild symptoms of Influenza Like Illness (ILI) and has since recovered. For the unaware, the JN.1 subvariant is a sub-lineage of the BA.2.86 Omicron variant (Pirola) and was first detected in Luxembourg. Since then, it has been spotted in more than 38 countries.

According to experts, JN.1 carries an additional spike mutation, L455S, and this mutation is suspected to have the potential to escape immunity. In the US, the JN.1 subvariant has become prominent with 15 and 29 per cent of infections being caused by it, as per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Besides, the woman in Kerala, the Indian Express reports that 15 new cases of the JN.1 variant have now been detected in samples from Goa. However, there is no official confirmation on this development yet. As of now, there’s one confirmed case of JN.1 in India from Kerala. However, there are reports that more such cases have been detected in Goa.

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