Covid man
The new variant does not cause serious illness and 16 deaths which have been reported in the last week were the people with serious comorbidities. Illustrative image. Image Credit: Pixabay

New Delhi:Twenty-one cases of the new COVID-19 variant JN.1 have been reported across India, the government think tank NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr. VK Paul said on Wednesday.

Goa has reported 19 cases of the JN.1 variant, and Maharashtra and Kerala one each, NDTV said, quoting sources.

Dr. Paul asked people not to panic about JN.1 and assured that the government is taking the necessary precautions to combat the new variant.

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He claimed that the new variant does not cause serious illness and the 16 deaths which have been reported in the last week were the people with serious comorbidities.

“We must remember that COVID-19 has not gone till now, and the people need to be a little vigilant. The government needs to be prepared for everything and hence, the government is continuously focusing on the sequencing and surveillance work,” he added.

'No need to panic'

“Centre has requested all states to increase the tests and make the citizens aware of the protocols. There is no need to panic because we all have been vaccinated,” Paul said.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday reviewed the COVID-19 situation and preparedness of public health systems in view of rising cases in five states — Kerala, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka.

The total COVID cases reported nationwide till 8am on Wednesday was 341, of which Kerala alone accounted for 292, Delhi and Gujarat reported 3 each, Karnataka logged 9 cases, Telangana and Puducherry 4 each, Tamil Nadu 13 and Maharashtra 11, according to data by the Union Health ministry.

The total number of active COVID cases in the country is currently at 2,311,

“It is important to be on alert and be prepared against new and emerging strains of the coronavirus,” Mandaviya said, according to a statement by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

“Let us undertake mock drills once every three months at both the central and state levels and share best practices,” the minister said.

The minister reminded the states that COVID is not over yet, so it is essential for the states to monitor emerging evidences of cases, symptoms, and case severity to plan appropriate public health response.

Health Ministry secretary Sudhansh Pant said cases in India are significantly less compared to the global numbers. But in the past two weeks, there has been a steep rise in active cases from 115 on December 6 to 614 on Wednesday.

Of this, 92.8 per cent of the cases are home-isolation, indicating mild illness, and no increase in hospitalisation rates have been seen due to COVID, Pant said during the presentation. The cases that are hospitalised are due to other medical conditions, while COVID is an incidental finding, the Health Secretary said, adding a rise in daily positivity rate has been observed in Kerala, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Karnataka. Positivity rate is the number of confirmed cases per 100 tests.

Pant said the JN.1 variant is under intense scientific scrutiny but not a cause of immediate concern. No clustering of cases due to the JN.1 variant has been observed in India. All the cases were found to be mild, and the patients recovered without any complications.