Hospitalized Covid cases increased, Ho Chi Minh City discovered JN.1 sub-variant


Hospitalized Covid cases increased, Ho Chi Minh City discovered JN.1 sub-variant

The infectious disease surveillance system recorded that 12/16 Covid patients hospitalized in December in Ho Chi Minh City were infected with the JN.1 variant, one case was infected with JN.1.1.

On January 24, Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health Tang Chi Thuong said the above results were carried out by the infectious disease surveillance team of Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU). This is the first time Vietnam has recorded the appearance of the JN.1 variant. The remaining cases among the 16 patients include two cases infected with BA.2.86.1 and one case infected with XDD.

JN.1 is a subtype from the Omicron variant BA.2.86, which is classified as a ” variant of concern ” by the World Health Organization (WHO). JN.1 is increasing the number of cases and deaths in several countries, including Thailand. This is the fastest growing variant and was dominant in the US in December. Since December 18, this variant has spread rapidly globally.

Virus gene sequencing technician at Ho Chi Minh City Tropical Diseases Hospital. Photo: Quynh Tran

Also according to WHO, JN.1 has new antigenic characteristics that allow the virus to easily attack the immune system and be more easily transmitted, thus quickly dominating the Covid variants causing disease globally. However, there is no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease than other Omicron subvariants.

According to the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Disease Control (HCDC), from December 18, 2023 to January 22, 2024, hospitals treated 94 Covid inpatient cases, coming from the city and a number of other provinces. Of these, 17 severe cases required oxygen, with no deaths. All severe cases are in the risk group (have severe underlying diseases) and have not received enough Covid vaccinations according to the instructions of the Ministry of Health.

“A worrying sign is that the number of hospitalizations at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases due to Covid-19 has tended to increase gradually in the last 6 weeks,” Mr. Thuong said.

WHO is monitoring five variants of concern, including XBB.1.5, XBB.1.16, EG.5, BA.2.86 and JN.1. With new surveillance results in December, except for the EG.5 variant, other sub-variants of concern were discovered in Ho Chi Minh City.

In general, all current variants cause similar Covid-19 symptoms. The severity of the disease depends on the state of the immune system and the health status of each person (whether there are underlying diseases or not). The US survey shows that existing Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostic testing techniques and Covid-19 treatment drugs are still effective against JN.1.

Mr. Thuong said that in the context of the approaching Lunar New Year, the need for exchanges and travel increases, the risk of increasing the number of cases and hospitalizations due to Covid-19 is present. To prevent Covid, the health sector recommends that people not be subjective and continue to take measures to protect themselves, their families and the community.

Recently, the number of global infections has increased in many places, and the number of hospitalizations for resuscitation treatment has also increased. Southeast Asia reported more than 26,000 new infections, an increase of 379% compared to the previous 28 days. The number of Covid-19 cases in Thailand increased sharply last week, including 11 deaths and 150 patients on ventilators, many of whom had never been vaccinated.

The health sector recommends that people wear masks when going to medical facilities, crowded places… or when having respiratory symptoms. Regularly wash your hands with clean water, soap or hand sanitizer. Rinse your mouth and throat with mouthwash. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

People get vaccinated against Covid-19 as recommended, especially for people in risk groups such as the elderly, people with underlying diseases… Environmental hygiene, personal hygiene, keeping the body warm , exercise, sports, improve physical condition.

Avoid contact with people with symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing. Elderly people, with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women… when showing signs of illness, need to immediately go to the nearest medical facility for timely consultation, examination and treatment.

The Department of Health requires HCDC to closely monitor the number of hospitalized Covid-19 cases , severe cases requiring resuscitation treatment, and continue to monitor Covid-19 variants. Hospitals are ready to receive and treat severe cases requiring hospitalization according to hypothetical situations and response scenarios.

Le Phuong

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