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Business News/ News / World/  Singapore health ministry issues travel advisory as COVID-19 cases rise; India braced for JN.1 variant
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Singapore health ministry issues travel advisory as COVID-19 cases rise; India braced for JN.1 variant

Though the Singapore government doubts the JN.1 variant for the rise in COVID cases, there is still no clear indication that BA.2.86 or JN.1 are more transmissible.

File: Passengers at Changi Airport under Singapore’s expanded Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) quarantine-free travel scheme.  (REUTERS)Premium
File: Passengers at Changi Airport under Singapore’s expanded Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) quarantine-free travel scheme.  (REUTERS)

Amid the sudden rise in coronavirus cases, especially due to sub-lineage of BA.2.86 – JN.1, in the country, the Singapore Health Ministry issued a fresh advisory to the island nations citizens and travelers, reported Economic Times. The advisory also applies to Indian travelers.

According to the report, the ministry estimated around 56,043 COVID cases in the week of 3-9 December 2023, a rise from 32,035 cases in the previous week.

Though the Singapore government doubts the JN.1 variant for the rise in cases, there is still no clear indication that BA.2.86 or JN.1 are more transmissible. Even clarity on JN.1 causing more severe disease than other circulating variants is absent.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 sub-strain JN.1: ‘Monitoring situation, we should be alert,’ says Kerala Health Minister Veena George

Meanwhile, the island country's health ministry in its report said that average daily coronavirus hospitalizations rose to 350 from 225 a week earlier.

Contingency plans:

To battle the disease, the health ministry is collaborating with public hospitals ensuring enough manpower, and deferring non-urgent elective procedures.

Making beds available for urgent cases that require immediate medical attention and utilizing step-down facilities like Transitional Care Facilities and alternative care models like Mobile Inpatient Care are being considered.

Apart from this, the health ministry said, as quoted by ET, that it will be opening a new COVID-19 Treatment Facility (CTF) at Singapore EXPO Hall 10 to provide care for more than 80 stable COVID-19 patients who do not require intensive hospital care.

ALSO READ: China detects 7 infections of COVID subvariant JN.1; is this a variant of concern? Here are the details

Advisory Issued:

In addition, the health ministry requested its citizens, experiencing symptoms of acute respiratory infection (ARI), to stay home until symptoms resolve and avoid contact with others.

The advisory noted that if the interaction is unavoidable, they should wear masks, limit social interactions, and steer clear of crowded places.

Also, the Ministry of Health (MOH) emphasizes the importance of wearing masks in crowded areas.

Among others, the ministry advised travelers to take precautions such as wearing masks at airports, obtaining travel insurance, and avoiding poorly ventilated crowded spaces.

Kerala case:

Meanwhile, a specific case of JN.1 was identified in an RT-PCR positive sample from Kerala's Karakulam on 8 December. The patient, who initially tested positive on November 18, 2023, experienced mild symptoms of ILI and has since recovered from COVID-19.

ALSO READ: Covid subvariant JN.1 in Kerala: From symptoms to precautions; here's all you need to know

"No need for any worry. That is a sub-variant (COVID-19 sub-strain JN.1). Two or three months back it was detected in Indians when tested at Singapore airport," state Health Minister Veena George said, appealing to the people to stay vigilant.

"As Kerala's health system is good, we could detect it through genomic sequencing. No need to worry. We are keenly monitoring the situation. But we should be alert. People with comorbidities should be taken care of," she added. 

However, Karnataka Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao ruled out the need to restrict movement on the border at present adding that the government has ensured all precautionary measures. Currently, Karnataka reports 58 active cases, with 11 hospitalized and one COVID-related death, compounded by other comorbidities.

The India SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), a network of Genomic Laboratories, has been actively monitoring the genomic aspects of COVID-19 in India.

JN.1 was first detected in September 2023 in the United States

With agency inputs. 

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Published: 17 Dec 2023, 06:57 PM IST
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