COVID-19 Variant JN.1: WHO Recommends Wearing Masks and Maintaining Social Distance

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Geneva, 19th December 2023: Due to its rapidly increasing spread, WHO is classifying the variant JN.1 as a separate variant of interest (VOI) from the parent lineage BA.2.86. It was previously classified as VOI as part of BA.2.86 sublineages.

Based on the available evidence, the additional global public health risk posed by JN.1 is currently evaluated as low. Despite this, with the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, JN.1 could increase the burden of respiratory infections in many countries.

WHO is continuously monitoring the evidence and will update the JN.1 risk evaluation as needed. Current vaccines continue to protect against severe disease and death from JN.1 and other circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. COVID-19 is not the only respiratory disease circulating. Influenza, RSV and common childhood pneumonia are on the rise.

WHO advises people to take measures to prevent infections and severe disease using all available tools. These include:

-Wear a mask when in crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated areas, and keep a safe distance from others, as feasible

-Practice respiratory etiquette – covering coughs and sneezes

-Clean your hands regularly

-Stay up to date with vaccinations against COVID-19 and influenza, especially if you are at high risk for severe disease

-Stay home if you are sick

-Get tested if you have symptoms, or if you might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or influenza

Read the risk evaluation: