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With six more cases of COVID-19 sub-variant JN.1, the number of infections of the new variant reported in the country have risen to 69, official sources said on Tuesday. They said that most of these patients are currently in home isolation and there was no increase in hospitalisation rates. However, the experts are of the opinion that though the new variant is being closely investigated, all the states should ramp up testing and strengthen their surveillance systems.b

COVID-19 has already played havoc with peoples lives globally. Though the massive vaccination has diluted the sting of the virus remarkably, with the onset of winter, we witness the emergence of a new COVID variant like every year which is fueling a sudden spike in cases. Experts caution identifying the subtle changes in symptoms caused by different COVID-19 variants is challenging due to diverse antibodies from vaccinations or prior infections.

Kashmir is in the grip of Chila-e-Kalan, the harshest 40 day winter period. Respiratory infections are usually common during these days and therefore people have to be very cautious during this period. People need to understand that the new variant of COVID is knocking at the doors and nothing but proper precautions can defeat it. Remembering the old days, people have to start doing what they did during the peak of COVID-19.

This winter, people should take measures to prevent infections and transmission by wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from others, cleaning hands regularly, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home if sick, and getting tested if you have symptoms or might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or influenza1. Though the current evaluation of the global public health risk is low, however, with the onset of winter, JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in Kashmir, along with other diseases such as flu, RSV, and pneumonia. We have been regularly writing in these columns that post COVID world is different than pre COVID world. We may have defeated the virus with vaccine but we have not finished it. It would be coming back in one or the other form. 

The government of India and health authorities are monitoring the situation and taking necessary steps to contain the spread of the sub-variant, however, more than the government, it is the people of India who can again defeat this virus. They have to follow the guidelines that the health authorities have been issuing time and again. To stay safe, people have to stay alert and take all precautions so that this new variant doesn’t get a chance to spread.


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