India reported 263 coronavirus cases of the JN.1 variant between December 8, when the virus strain was first detected, and January 2, PTI reported, citing data from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium on Tuesday.

The new variant has been detected in at least 10 states and Union Territories with the highest number of cases recorded in Kerala at 133.

The southern state, which reported the first case of the JN.1 variant in the country, is followed by Goa with 51 cases.

At least 34 cases of the variant have been reported from Gujarat, 16 in Delhi, nine in Maharashtra, eight in Karnataka, five in Rajasthan, four in Tamil Nadu, two in Telangana, and one in Odisha, according to consortium data.

The World Health Organization has classified the JN.1 coronavirus strain as a “variant of interest” but said that the risk to public health from the strain, going by available evidence, appears to be low.

However, the global health body has also said that with the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere, the variant, along with other viral and bacterial infections, could increase the number of respiratory infections in many countries.

The number of Covid-19 cases being reported on a daily basis had significantly dropped. But since the emergence of the new variant in early December and the onset of winter, the cases have seen a rise.

On December 18, the Centre had asked state governments to monitor and report influenza-like illnesses and severe acute respiratory illnesses amid the surge.

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry data showed that the country reported 573 fresh Covid-19 cases, bringing the number of active cases of the infection to 4,565.

Two new deaths due to the disease were reported in 24 hours, taking the toll since the outbreak of the infection in January 2020 to 5,33,366, according to the ministry’s data updated at 8 am.