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COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise in New Year
Cases of COVID are on the rise in the new year, with the country experiencing a surge in COVID caseload due to the new JN.1 sub-variant, which is highly transmissible but milder. Experts warn that the highly-contagious Omicron subvariant (JN.1) is spreading rapidly and new symptoms have emerged that people need to be aware of. However, medical experts caution that these symptoms may vary from patient to patient, emphasizing that the severity of symptoms depends more on a person’s overall health and immunity rather than the variant causing the infection.
The Emergence of New COVID Symptoms
The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics reported new symptoms associated with COVID. In December 2023, data revealed that in addition to the usual symptoms of runny noses, coughs, headaches, and weakness, some patients also exhibited symptoms of trouble sleeping and anxiety. The winter report by ONS showed that 10% of individuals who tested positive for COVID experienced anxiety or excessive worrying, while the more common symptoms like losing taste and smell were now only present in two to three percent of all UK COVID cases. The breakdown of COVID symptoms includes a runny nose (31.1%), cough cough (22.9%), headache (20.1%), fatigue (19.6%), muscle pain (15.8%), sore throat (13.2%), trouble sleeping (10.8%), and anxiety (10.5%) as the other common symptoms exhibited by COVID-infected individuals.
Challenges in Identifying COVID Symptoms
Since the pandemic began, medical experts have been identifying symptoms of COVID, but as the virus mutates, this has become increasingly difficult. Dr. Helen Wall, clinical director of population health for NHS Greater Manchester, stated that there are no specific symptoms anymore that definitively indicate COVID, as the virus can manifest as any respiratory illness or other symptoms. The emergence of new symptoms further complicates the identification of COVID.
Spread of COVID in India and Globally
The news of new symptoms comes at a time when COVID infections are increasing in India and worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the JN.1 strain as a ‘variant of interest’. India reported a total of 312 cases of COVID-19 sub-variant JN.1, with 47% recorded in Kerala. 10 states and 2 Union Territories have detected the subvariant of the virus. On Wednesday, the health ministry reported 602 fresh infections in the past 24 hours, prompting the Centre to issue an advisory to all states and Union Territories to maintain a constant vigil. In the United States, mask mandates in hospitals have been reinstated in four states, and other parts of the world have reported a rise in COVID infections. However, experts remain cautiously optimistic, emphasizing the importance of good hygiene practices, vaccinations, and testing for COVID to prevent the spread of the virus.