The JN.1 variant is linked to the Omicron virus, featuring some novel mutations where current knowledge suggests a slightly increased transmission rate compared to its predecessors, indicating higher infectivity but despite this, the variant doesn’t exhibit severe symptoms however, it is noteworthy that it evades the immune system more effectively than Omicron and other Covid-19 variants, contributing to its heightened transmission. A 52-year-old woman in Delhi was recently diagnosed with JN.1 infection, making the surge in Covid-19 cases a new concern for the centre, state government and the citizens as six deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours – two in Maharashtra and one each in Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal while the active caseload has reportedly reached 4,097.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Sachin Kumar, Senior Consultant – Pulmonology and Critical Care Medicine at Sakra World Hospital in Bengaluru, revealed that in essence, JN.1 is an Omicron lineage and while there’s no need for panic, precautions similar to those for Covid-19, such as practicing cough hygiene, frequent handwashing and taking breaks from work or school upon symptom onset, remain essential for prevention. He recommended the following 10 ways to safeguard your health amid ongoing viral evolution:
1. Individuals with underlying health conditions (e.g., those aged 65 and older, children, diabetes, bronchitis or asthma, heart patients, cancer patients) should exercise extra caution when venturing outside.
2. If someone in these vulnerable groups experiences flu-like symptoms, prompt medical attention is advised due to their lower immunity.
3. Currently, there’s no evidence suggesting the severity of the JN.1 variant is higher than other Omicron variants. It appears to be milder, with the only concerning factor being its increased infectivity.
4. The heightened infectivity is seen as a normal evolutionary process for viruses, where they spread more easily but tend to cause less severe illness. This is crucial for the virus’s survival and continued transmission.
5. The overall fatality or lethality rate seems to be decreasing with virus evolution, indicating a trend where viruses become less deadly over time to ensure their own survival by infecting more people.
6. It is emphasized that the current situation does not indicate severe outcomes, but individuals in high-risk groups should remain vigilant and take necessary precautions.
7. Promote a robust immune system through a wholesome lifestyle, including a balanced diet, consistent exercise, and sufficient sleep, and seek guidance from healthcare professionals for immune-boosting strategies, particularly for cancer patients in treatment. Maintain optimal blood sugar levels by consistently monitoring and collaborating with healthcare professionals if you have diabetes. Adopt a well-balanced diet, participate in regular physical activity, and effectively manage stress for overall diabetes management.
8. Maintain a hygienic home environment by regularly cleaning and sanitizing, while minimising visitors to lower the potential for exposure.
9. Follow thorough preventive measures, such as consistent 20-second handwashing, maintaining safe distances in crowded places, steering clear of close contact with those who are unwell, and wearing masks in public, ensuring proper coverage of both the nose and mouth.
10. Vaccination is essential in enabling the immune system to identify and counteract harmful pathogens, averting severe illness, curbing disease transmission, and protecting both individual and community well-being. Regular health check-ups complement vaccination, ensuring ongoing awareness and education about personal health.