ColombiaOne.comColombia newsCOVID-19: New JN.1 Variant Arrives in Colombia

COVID-19: New JN.1 Variant Arrives in Colombia


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JN.1 variant of Covid-19 arrived in Colombia – Credit: A.P. / Colombia One

The JN.1 variant of covid-19 arrived in Colombia in December and the peak of infections is expected to occur during the month of January. In fact, the country has already presented peaks of infections, but so far no problems have been reported in hospitals or in general medical care. The National Institute of Health (INS) confirmed yesterday afternoon, January 9, the circulation in Colombia of the variant of Omicron identified as JN.1. It was declared of interest by the WHO for being the dominant one in the U.S. and for being responsible for the peak of infections in the northern hemisphere.

According to the Colombian health authority, this variant was diagnosed for the first time in the country on December 24, causing an increase in respiratory diseases forecast for January, but without major complications. Although the increase had been predicted for the last months of last year, taking into account the greater social interaction due to the Christmas holidays, the arrival of foreign visitors and climatic phenomena, the arrival of this variant will delay for a few weeks the sharpest increase of contagions.

The alert of the authorities continues, because in addition to covid-19, the country presents infections by other seasonal respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus, enterovirus, rhinovirus, adenovirus and influenza, as confirmed by the INS.

Normality in hospitals

According to health authorities, the country continues with normal medical care and the occupation of hospital beds has not seen any significant increase. In this regard, the director of the INS, Giovanny Rubiano, said in a statement that “with the circulation of these variants in Colombia, including the new variant of covid JN.1, no greater severity of the disease is observed, nor greater hospitalization or deaths”.

Rubiano insisted that the current preventive measures will be maintained, such as the use of face masks in case of respiratory symptoms, keeping closed spaces ventilated and inviting the most at-risk population to vaccination points.

These variants derived from omicron “are highly infectious, but with low capacity to cause disease, hospitalization and death,” the INS recalled.

Increase in infections as expected

The Institute said that compared to the figures from November 5 to December 2, when 1,066 cases of covid-19 were recorded, or an incidence of 2.36% per 100,000 inhabitants, there has been an increase in the number of infections and in the incidence of cases of the coronavirus. In this regard, from December 3 to 30, there were 1,647 reported cases and an incidence of 3.64 % per 100,000 people.

“This increase, however, is an estimated or expected growth for this time of the year,” says the INS, which also indicated that in addition to covid-19, the country has infections by other viruses common at this time of the year.

This covid-19 strain was detected for the first time in September in the United States and since then caused the greatest increase in infections since the Omicron variant. Something similar happened in Europe. In Italy, for example, JN.1 also triggered infections in the last week of December, where health authorities stated that the flu epidemic curve showed an incidence value never reached in previous seasons.

Vaccination of vulnerable groups

For its part, the Colombian Ministry of Health has called for vaccination against covid-19 among groups considered vulnerable. These include people over 60 years of age, elderly people with basic diseases and health sector personnel.

Vaccination is obtained immediately at any health care point, through the private companies that manage health care, known as EPS.

The ministry also informed that in 2023, 1,274,186 doses against coronavirus were administered and 757,400 doses of the new Bivalent vaccine were distributed, which is available throughout the national territory.

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