On 19th January, Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed the detection of JN.1 Variant of COVID-19 in the country.
The MOH informed the general public that the Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC) has detected the JN.1 variant (a sub-lineage of the BA.2.86 Omicron) through routine COVID-19 Integrated Influenza surveillance on the evening of January 18, 2024.
JN.1 previously identified in the South-East Asia Region has been designated as a separate variant of interest (VOI) by the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 18, 2023, and was under close surveillance by the MoH.
A total of 12 samples collected between December 2023 and January 2024 were subjected to genomic sequencing. All the samples were detected with the JN.1 variant. The cases were detected from Thimphu (5), Trongsa (3), Tsirang (2), Punakha (1), and Samtse (1) districts. This confirms the presence of the JN.1 in the community.
As per WHO, globally there has been rapid increase in the proportion of JN.1 variant reported.
As per the WION news, JN.1 cases are seeing a spike in the US, UK, China and India. The symptoms of JN.1 infection are very similar to those of previous omicron variants.
As per the MOH, detecting the JN.1 variant in the community is a reminder for us to remain vigilant and practice shared responsibility, however, there is no need for concern.
The MoH will continue to monitor ongoing developments related to COVID-19 and adapt response measures as per the evolving situation and science, and inform general public accordingly. The MoH is also collaborating with WHO to share information and assess the implications of the variant.
As per the WHO and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, there is limited evidence of the severity caused by JN.1 though it is found to be more transmissible than the previous variants.
“The JN.1 subvariant has become the dominant Covid-19 variant in India, accounting for more than 60% of the coronavirus cases in the country,” according to the Economics Times of India.
The JN.1 cases in India seems to be surging rapidly with over 5000 cases.
Recognising the critical role of vaccination, the MoH will prioritise COVID-19 vaccination across the country focusing on high-risk population. This approach aims to mitigate the spread and severity of JN.1 infection.
Currently, there are no exact death rate on the new variant so far.
Meanwhile, the MoH advises the general public to adhere to the basic preventive health measures by practicing hand hygiene, wearing masks in crowded places, staying at home if sick, and seeking health advice if one is experiencing severe symptoms.