India has climbed to the 9th position globally with 3,800 COVID-19 cases a week before Christmas, from the 19th slot in 28 days with 6,900 cases, reveals data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It says the Russian Federation leads with 9,69,100 cases, followed by Italy (624,000), Poland (184,000), Czechia (16,000), Greece (14500), New Zealand (6300), Brunei (5000) and Belgium (4000).

Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a network of laboratories that monitors variants of the COVID-19 virus, maintains there is no need for panic over the JN.1 subvariant of Omicron and they are studying the epidemiology and clinical behaviour of the virus.

The government of India today said there were 4,091 active COVID-19 cases and five deaths since the new variant of concern (VoC) JN.1 of coronavirus started spreading in the last few weeks. Kerala accounted for the maximum number of COVID-19 cases at 2,522, followed by Karnataka at 568, Maharashtra at 369 and Tamil Nadu (156). While two people have died due to Covid-19 in Kerala, Maharashtra, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu reported one each death so far. The Ministry of Health says the cases have gone up since the first week of December, after the emergence of JN.1 subvariant and cold weather conditions.

Since the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020, India has witnessed infections for over 4.5 crore people and over 5.3 lakh deaths in four years. The first case of JN.1 was identified on December 8 from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and since then the Government has asked the states to step up vigil and monitoring of samples. The variant was initially identified in the United States in September 2023.

Unlike Covid-19's earlier mutated versions, the number of hospitalisations and other complications is lower in the JN.1 subvariant. Symptoms are similar to viral infections and can be detected when tested for COVID-19. However, JN.1 can evade immunity and spread fast, unlike earlier variants like XBB and previous versions of COVID-19. This causes infections in cold conditions, especially among those who had COVID-19 earlier and were vaccinated, say health experts.

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