Maldives-returned Indian woman tests positive new Covid variant

Indian media reports that a woman who returned to the country after travelling to the Maldives has tested positive for the new Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1.

The New Indian Express reported that the 33-year-old woman tested positive for the new variant in Indore, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The newspaper, quoting an official, reported on Friday that the woman tested positive for Covid on December 13, and has since recovered.

Her sample was sent for whole genome sequencing (WGS) at Bhopal-based All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and the report, which arrived on Thursday, confirmed that she was infected with JN.1 sub-variant, said Dr. Amit Malakar, nodal officer of the district unit of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP).

The Covid-19 sub-variant JN.1 has spread to 16 Indian states, with over 1,000 cases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified JN.1 as a separate "variant of interest" given its rapidly-increasing spread, but said it poses a "low" global public health risk.

The JN.1 strain, first detected in September in the United States, is a descendant of BA.2.86, a highly mutated variant of the Omicron strain of Covid-19.