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Updated December 19th, 2023 at 23:47 IST

WHO classifies new COVID-19 variant JN.1 as 'variant of interest' after cases emerge in India

WHO that the global public health risk due to this variant is currently low but it could cause respiratory problems in countries experiencing winter.

Digital Desk
COVID representative image
COVID representative image | Image:Freepik
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The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Tuesday, classified the JN.1 COVID-19 variant as a 'variant of interest' as positive cases are being reported in multiple countries including India. 

According to WHO's statement, available evidence suggests that the global public health risk due to this variant is currently low but it warned that JN.1 could increase "the burden of respiratory infections" in the Northern hemisphere countries during this winter season.

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NEW: #COVID19 variant of interest JN.1

Due to its rapidly increasing spread, WHO is classifying the variant JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI) from the parent lineage BA.2.86. It was previously classified as VOI as part of BA.2.86 sublineages.

Based on the available… pic.twitter.com/lvyd3sq1f7

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) December 19, 2023

"Due to its rapidly increasing spread, WHO is classifying the variant JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI) from the parent lineage BA.2.86.  It was previously classified as VOI as part of BA.2.86 sublineages," it said in the statement.

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"Current vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19," the WHO said adding that it is "continuously monitoring the evidence" for updates.

JN.1 variant reaches India

Cases of patients infected with the JN.1 variant have been reported in Goa and Kerala. As a result, the Centre issued an advisory to states asking them to monitor and report District-wise Influenza-like Illness (ILI) and Severe Acute Respirator Illness (SARI) in all health facilities. 

Advisory by the Centre to state. Image: ANI

It has also advised the state to ensure a high number of RT-PCR tests and sent positive samples for genome sequencing.

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Advisory from the Centre. Image: ANI

For the general public, the Centre said that JN.1 illness symptoms are not confirmed to be different from other variants. "In general, symptoms of COVID-19 tend to be similar across variants," the advisory said.

It also said that existing treatment for COVID-19 is expected to be effective against JN.1 infection. 

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Published December 19th, 2023 at 23:47 IST

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