First COVID-19 Death Reported in Karnataka; Rise in JN. 1 Variant Cases Sparks Concern

Karnataka recorded its first death due to COVID-19 today as Bengaluru reported the demise of a resident of Chamrajpet. The individual succumbed to complications arising from the virus, marking a somber milestone in the state’s battle against the pandemic. The incident comes amidst a surge in cases of the COVID-19 JN. 1 variant in southern states.

The deceased individual, reportedly suffering from co-morbidities, passed away on Wednesday, December 20, 2023. This follows closely on the heels of Kerala reporting three deaths on December 19, further underscoring the heightened concerns regarding the spread of the virus in the region. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare disclosed that Karnataka currently has 2,041 active cases.

Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao addressed the media, urging the public not to panic. He assured that discussions have been held with the Union Health Minister, and preparations are underway with increased testing and monitoring measures. While no specific guidelines or restrictions on activities and gatherings have been imposed, Rao emphasized the importance of precautionary measures in public spaces, with the wearing of masks being a key recommendation.

On Monday, December 18, 2023, the Centre issued an advisory in response to the upsurge in COVID cases. States across India were urged to adhere to detailed operational guidelines for the revised surveillance strategy for COVID-19, provided by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The advisory stressed the need for testing in all districts and maintaining a recommended balance between RT-PCR and antigen tests.

Notably, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the COVID-19 JN. 1 sub-variant as a ‘variant of interest.’ This classification comes in response to a drastic rise in the number of cases, distinguishing it from Pirola sub-lineages. The move reflects the global concern surrounding the potential impact and characteristics of this emerging variant.

As the nation grapples with the evolving situation, authorities continue to emphasize the importance of vigilance, adherence to guidelines, and collective efforts to curb the spread of the virus. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare remains committed to closely monitoring the situation and providing necessary guidance to mitigate the impact of the ongoing pandemic.


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Ravi Malhorta


Ravi Malhorta