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Government Issues Advisory Amidst Covid Surge and Emergence of JN.1 Variant: Urges Increased Testing and Vigilance

Government Issues Advisory Amidst Covid Surge and Emergence of JN.1 Variant: Urges Increased Testing and Vigilance

Written by Sanjay Kumar

News Highlights

  • Advisory stresses increased vigilance, reporting, and RT-PCR testing amidst rising Covid cases.
  • States advised on measures and respiratory hygiene for safe festive season celebrations.
  • Kerala reports first JN.1 case; Govt urges heightened monitoring and testing for timely variant detection.

As India grapples with a surge in Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the JN.1 variant, the Central government has issued a crucial advisory to all states, emphasizing the need for heightened vigilance and proactive measures. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has underscored the importance of reporting influenza-like and severe acute respiratory illnesses promptly, urging states to ramp up RT-PCR testing and expedite genome sequencing of positive samples.

Government’s Urgent Plea: In response to the escalating situation, the Union Health Secretary has dispatched a letter to all States/UTs, urging them to maintain a state of constant vigilance. The government commended the collaborative efforts between the Centre and state governments, acknowledging the sustained control over the trajectory at low rates. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare outlined strategic measures for effective Covid control.

Preventive Measures Ahead of Festive Season: Considering the imminent festive season, states have been advised to implement necessary public health measures and arrangements to minimize the risk of disease transmission. Emphasizing the importance of respiratory hygiene, the government aims to ensure a safe and secure environment during the celebrations.

Monitoring and Early Detection: States are directed to monitor and report all cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) across health facilities. The government encourages an increase in the number of RT-PCR tests, with positive samples to be sent promptly for genome sequencing to Indian SARS COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) laboratories. This proactive approach aims to enable the timely detection of new variants, including the recently identified JN.1 variant.

JN.1 Variant Detected in Kerala: The advisory comes in the wake of India’s first reported case of the Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1 in Kerala on December 8, 2023. The specific case was identified in an RT-PCR positive sample from Karakulam, Thiruvananthapuram. The patient, who initially tested positive on November 18, 2023, experienced mild symptoms of ILI and has since recovered from Covid-19.

As the nation confronts the dual challenge of rising Covid-19 cases and the emergence of new variants, the government’s advisory underscores the critical need for a collective and vigilant response. Increased testing, timely reporting, and genomic surveillance are highlighted as key strategies in the ongoing battle against the pandemic.

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