The Centre on Monday asked state governments to monitor and report influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory illnesses amid the surge in Covid-19 cases in several parts of India.

This follows the detection of the first case of the new JN.1 variant of coronavirus in India. As the coronavirus and other pathogens spread and settle in the Indian weather conditions, it is important to maintain constant vigil over the situation till the district level, the health ministry said.

The ministry has asked states to increase the number of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, tests and send samples that are positive for genome sequencing to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium laboratories to detect new variants of the virus.

The number of active Covid-19 cases in India as of Monday was 1,828, NDTV reported.

Kerala, where the JN.1 variant has been detected, has reported one death. However, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium chief Dr NK Arora told NDTV that the patient’s death was caused by multiple underlying health conditions, not just the coronavirus subvariant.

States have been advised to put in place public health measures to minimise the spread of the disease, the Centre said on Monday.

State governments have also been advised to adhere to the operational guidelines issued in June 2022 as part of the revised surveillance strategy to curb the spread of Covid-19.

After the detection of the new variant, the Karnataka government on Monday made wearing of masks mandatory for persons aged 60 and above, those having comorbidities and showing symptoms of cough, phlegm and fever, NDTV reported.

Karnataka Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said that testing has been increased among those who show symptoms of Covid-19. Surveillance in districts bordering Kerala has also been increased, he said.

Rao added that no restrictions have been implemented on movement and gathering, and the Karnataka government will decide the course of action based on the situation.