The steep rise in the new JN.1 sub-variant of Covid-19 virus globally, including in India, has alarmed the governments and healthcare authorities, but there is a breather -- the new variant is not causing severe infections or hospitalisations as of now.

According to experts, JN.1 (from the lineage of the Omicron variant) is more transmissible and spreads more rapidly, causing symptoms like fever, cough, cold, sore throat, and body aches -- similar to what we have seen in the past.

The latest update from the Health Ministry shows that the number of active cases in India stands at 3,742. India saw a single-day rise of 752 coronavirus infections last week.

Twenty-two cases of JN.1 have been detected in the country, with four new deaths -- two from Kerala, one each in Rajasthan and Karnataka.

The sub-variant is a descendent lineage of BA.2.86, with the earliest sample collected on August 25, 2023. In comparison with BA.2.86, JN.1 has the additional L455S mutation in the spike protein.

“Infection severity is reported as similar to previous cases reported due to Omicron. Symptoms reported are mostly restricted to upper respiratory tract infections, and no serious symptoms have been reported so far,” according to Harshal R. Salve, Additional Professor, centre for community medicine at AIIMS, Delhi.

“Overall there is no need to panic. Current surge in cases also attributed to surge in transmission of respiratory viruses during winter season. Most of the cases are mild in form,” he told IANS last week.

N.1, first detected in Luxembourg in August, is currently present in about 41 countries.

Due to its rapid spread, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI), from the parent lineage BA.2.86. The WHO said JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in many countries.

The global number of new Covid-19 cases has increased by 52 per cent during the last one month. JN.1 now makes 44 per cent of cases in the US, as per CDC estimates.

In the latest epidemiological update, the world health body reported over 850,000 new cases worldwide in the 28-day period from November 20 to December 17.

The number of new deaths decreased by 8 per cent as compared to the previous 28-day period, with over 3,000 new fatalities reported. As of December 17, over 772 million confirmed cases and nearly seven million deaths have been reported globally.

The doctors say that people with existing diseases such as COPD, asthma, and heart disease are vulnerable to severe diseases due to Covid infection.

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)