Updated December 20th, 2023 at 19:38 IST

India detects new COVID-19 variant JN.1 in Kerala: All you need to know

The new COVID-19 variant, JN.1, has been detected in Kerala amid rising coronavirus cases in the southern state.

Reported by: Manisha Roy
The Kerala government might implement preventive measures and restrictions in sensitive areas if cases continue to rise. | Image:Shutterstock

Kochi: India has detected a new variant of COVID-19, JN.1, in Kerala. This comes amid rising COVID-19 cases in the southern state. The new COVID-19 strain was first detected in United States in September before spreading to other countries, including the United Kingdom and Portugal.

What is JN.1, new COVID-19 variant detected in Kerala

The JN.1 strain is a lineage derived from the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86. Acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a "notable descendant lineage" of Omicron, it is recognized for its high transmissibility and ability to evade immunity. This variant has been gaining prevalence in various countries, including the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), Spain, Iceland, Portugal, and others. It has been identified in 38 nations, including India, and is suspected to be linked to the recent surge in hospitalizations in some countries.

India logs 312 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours

The most recent data from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) has confirmed the presence of the new JN.1 variant in Kerala, coinciding with a rise in COVID-19 cases in the state. While India recorded 312 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, Kerala alone reported 280 cases within 24 hours. Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, co-chairperson of the National Indian Medical Association COVID Task Force, suggests that JN.1 may be contributing to the recent surge in coronavirus cases in India.

Kerala plans to contain spread

Given the detection of the new COVID-19 variant in Kerala, authorities stress the importance of continuous monitoring of the novel virus. Reports indicate that the Kerala government might implement preventive measures and restrictions in sensitive areas if cases continue to rise. However, experts assure that, for the majority of patients, these cases are not severe, and updated vaccines and treatments remain effective against the JN.1 sub-strain.

Tamil Nadu on alert amid surge in COVID-19 cases in Kerala

In response to the detection of the new coronavirus variant in Kerala, the government of Tamil Nadu has initiated testing of COVID-19-positive samples. Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Friday that the Tamil Nadu government has increased RT-PCR tests in areas with more fever cases, revealing that out of 264 people tested for fever, eight tested positive for COVID-19.


Published December 16th, 2023 at 18:51 IST