COVID-19 Update: India Records 529 New Cases, Confirms Spread of New Sub-Variant JN.1

India reported 529 fresh COVID-19 cases and five deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry. The new COVID-19 sub-variant, JN.1, first detected in Kerala on December 8, has now spread to nine states, with Delhi recording its first case of the new variant.

The health ministry stated that the country recorded 529 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths (two from Karnataka and one from Gujarat) in the 24-hour period till 8 am on Wednesday. Subsequently, two more COVID-19 deaths were confirmed from Maharashtra, marking the first confirmed fatalities in the state in over three months. Maharashtra also witnessed a notable surge in new cases, with 87 infections recorded on Wednesday.

The JN.1 sub-variant, identified as a descendant of the BA.2.86 lineage, has caused 110 confirmed cases in the country so far, according to data from the Indian SARS-CoV2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG). The affected states include Gujarat (36 cases), Karnataka (34), Goa (14), Maharashtra (9), Kerala (6), Rajasthan (4), Tamil Nadu (4), Telangana (2), and Delhi (1).

Health ministry officials noted that although the number of cases has increased, hospitalizations are relatively low, as most cases exhibit mild symptoms. The reported deaths were attributed to individuals with pre-existing co-morbidities.

Experts have identified JN.1 as a descendant of the BA.2.86 lineage, initially identified in August. Reports suggest that JN.1 carries significant mutations that may contribute to increased transmissibility and immune-escape ability.

The situation is being closely monitored as health authorities work to understand the implications of this new sub-variant and take appropriate measures to curb its spread.