A recent surge in daily Covid cases and mask advisories by several states has rekindled memories of the challenging pandemic era that confined us indoors and shrouded us in fear for two years. Across the country, there have been 358 new Covid cases reported in the last 24 hours, with 300 cases originating in Kerala. Six fatalities were attributed to Covid-related complications during this period. Presently, there are 2,669 active cases of Covid, as reported by the Union Health Ministry.
Yesterday’s reported count of 614 new Covid cases, the highest since May, has raised concerns and put authorities on high alert. This upsurge in infections is primarily propelled by a Covid variant identified as JN.1.
The World Health Organization has labeled JN.1 as a ‘variant of interest.’ However, current evidence indicates that it does not pose a significant risk. Despite this, with the arrival of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, JN.1 might amplify the burden of respiratory infections in numerous countries, as stated by the WHO.
Latest Covid Updates: Rise in Cases and Advisory
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, a former WHO chief scientist, has voiced concerns about the recent spike in Covid infections. She emphasized the importance of not dismissing Covid as a mere common cold, highlighting both the severity of acute illness and the long-term repercussions of the disease.
Addressing the emergence of the JN.1 variant, Dr. Swaminathan explained, “While it shares similarities with the relatively mild Omicron, new variants tend to enhance transmissibility and evade existing antibody responses, leading to waves of infections among previously infected individuals.”
Dr. Swaminathan cautioned against equating newer Covid variants with the common cold, citing extensive global data that links Covid to a spectrum of long-term health issues, including heart ailments, strokes, diabetes, mental health disorders, and persistent fatigue.
Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan, Co-Chairman of the National Indian Medical Association Covid Task Force, highlighted concerns about significantly different variants like JN.1, stressing the importance of precautions in enclosed and crowded spaces.
Regarding symptoms, Dr. Swaminathan identified fever, cough, loss of smell, and taste, along with persistent high fever, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and nausea as warning signs.
She recommended mask-wearing in crowded areas, especially for vulnerable individuals, and advised sick individuals to wear masks to protect others. Additionally, she suggested the use of pulse oximeters for the vulnerable population.
Remaining vigilant, the Union Health Ministry conducted a comprehensive review of India’s situation and readiness to combat any surge caused by the new Covid variant.
Health Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya stressed the importance of vigilance against new strains, urging all states to bolster surveillance and ensure sufficient stocks of essential medical supplies.
Chandigarh administration issued an advisory mandating mask-wearing in crowded and enclosed spaces and emphasized the practice of proper hand hygiene amidst the recent spike in Covid cases.
For the latest updates on Covid, visit The News Facts Health section.