78 cases of JN.1 variant in Kerala; Karnataka govt to test symptomatic contacts of positive cases, audit Covid deaths

The WHO designated the SARS-CoV-2 subvariant JN.1 as a variant of interest (VOI) due to its rapid proliferation.

BySumit Jha

Published Dec 28, 2023 | 6:36 PMUpdatedDec 28, 2023 | 6:36 PM

Karnataka has intensified testing across the state. (Representational image)

Kerala has reported 78 cases of the JN.1 variant of Covid-19 as of Thursday, 28 December. India, overall, has reported a total of 157 cases of JN.1 since November 2023, according to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).

Aside from Kerala, cases of the JN.1 variant were reported in Gujarat (34), Goa (18), Karnataka (8), Maharashtra (7), Rajasthan (5), Tamil Nadu (4), Telangana (2), and Delhi(1).

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the SARS-CoV-2 subvariant JN.1 as a distinct variant of interest (VOI) from its original lineage BA.2.86 due to its rapid proliferation.

The earliest known case of the JN.1 variant emerged in Kerala on 10 November, when a male patient tested positive for Covid-19, prompting his samples to undergo genomic sequencing.

Also Read: WHO classifies JN.1 variant of Covid-19 as ‘Variant of Interest’

Test symptomatic close contacts, audit COVID deaths

In view of the rise in Covid-19 cases in Karnataka, the state government on Thursday, 28 December, instructed authorities to adopt measures such as testing symptomatic contacts of positive cases, use of Tele ICU and conducting audits of deaths due to the infection.

As the New Year festive season approaches, all public hospitals in districts have been advised to establish dedicated Covid-19 isolation wards including some ICU beds to treat patients.

The Commissionerate of Health and Family Welfare Services issued a circular asking the state health authorities and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) officials to ensure that the directions are followed.

“Testing forms the basis for early detection of Covid-19 and initiation of early treatment to the patient. As a matter of precaution, it is advised that along with the targeted testing norms issued earlier, all symptomatic close contacts shall also be tested for Covid-19,” the circular said.

Noting that almost 400 Covid-19 patients are in home isolation presently and a few are admitted in general isolation wards in hospitals, it said, “Henceforth, Covid-19 patients under home isolation and general ward admissions shall be visited by doctors/paramedical staff from PHCs/UPHCs/Namma Clinics etc., at least once to assess medical condition and symptoms of patient and suggest further steps for treatment.”

All those Covid patients admitted in ICUs shall be monitored through Tele ICU from state headquarters, as done during the previous Covid waves, it added.

The Health Department instructed District Death Audit Committees to meet as and when required and audit the Covid deaths, the circular said. “The State Death Audit Committee shall audit the Covid deaths and submit reports with recommendations, from time to time, to the Health Commissionerate,” it said.

As unnecessary exposure to CT (computed tomography) is not desirable, it has also been directed that the CT thorax scan shall not be used as screening test for Covid-19 anymore. “Strict instructions and compliance in this regard is expected from government and private healthcare facilities and diagnostic centres.”

Also read: Why are genome sequencing, constant monitoring still important?

Covid-19 in India

India saw a single-day rise of 702 Covid-19 infections, while the active cases have increased to 4,150, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

The death toll was recorded at 5,33,346 with six new deaths — two from Maharashtra, one each from Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, and Delhi, respectively — reported in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am, stated.

The country’s Covid-19 case tally stood at 4,50,10,944. The number of people who recuperated from the disease has increased to 4,44,73,448, and the national recovery rate stands at 98.81 percent, according to the Health Ministry’s website. The fatality rate stands at 1.18 percent.

The ministry’s website stated that 220.67 crore doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the country so far.

Covid-19: Wastewater surveillance in Bengaluru shows wave-like situation