Health Ministry assesses minimal risk from JN-1 sub-variant of Covid-19
Colombo (LNW): The risk posed to the country by the JN-1 sub-strain of the COVID-19 virus in Sri Lanka is minimal, the Ministry of Health officially asserted.
This declaration follows the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) announcement on December 20, 2023, categorising the JN-1 sub-variant as a Variant of Interest (VOI) that warrants further investigation.
The WHO, while acknowledging the minimal potential public health threat posed by the JN-1 sub-variant, cautioned about the increased likelihood of respiratory diseases, including influenza, during the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere.
The JN-1 sub-variant has been identified in several countries, including India, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In response to the global situation, the Ministry of Health has intensified respiratory disease prevention activities in 19 major hospitals and increased COVID-19 testing in collaboration with the WHO’s Southeast Asia Regional Office.
The Medical Research Institute has been tasked with conducting genetic tests to assess the risk of the JN-1 sub-variant spreading in Sri Lanka.
Recent tests conducted in Sri Lanka have shown a very low number of COVID-19 cases. Special attention has been given to collecting samples from major hospitals in the past few days, and all tested samples returned negative for COVID-19.
Based on the current data, it can be emphasised that the risk of an epidemic situation in Sri Lanka due to the JN-1 subtype of the COVID-19 virus is very low.
The Ministry of Health, following expert advice, encourages preventive measures to curb the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases. These measures include wearing masks in closed, poorly ventilated, crowded places, frequent handwashing, maintaining social distance, and practicing proper cough and sneeze etiquette.
Special attention is urged for individuals over the age of 60, those with chronic illnesses, and pregnant mothers, as they are at an increased risk of complications from respiratory diseases.