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Will declare mucormycosis an epidemic if need arises, says Kejriwal

CM Kejriwal has urged hospitals to use steroids in COVID-19 treatment in a controlled manner. He also said dedicated centres will be set up for treatment of the fungal infection or mucormycosis at three city government-run hospitals.

“We will declare it (black fungus) an epidemic if needs arise. I also appeal to all hospitals and doctors to use steroids in a controlled manner. Patients should take care of their sugar levels,” he told reporters.

The combination of steroids and sugar is leading to a rise in number of black fungus cases, the chief minister said.

Health Ministry urges states to make black fungus a notifiable disease

The Union Health Ministry has urged states and Union territories to make black fungus or mucormycosis a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, stating that the infection is leading to prolonged morbidity and mortality among COVID-19 patients.

Earlier, after a high-level meeting with senior officials and specialists, Kejriwal said dedicated centres will be set up at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital for treatment of black fungus.

There will be a special team of doctors deployed at each centre for efficient functioning, he said.

The drug used in the treatment of the fungal infection will be arranged in enough quantity. The city government will also procure it from the central government, the chief minister said.

Kejriwal said Delhi is the capital of the country, so people from outside also come here for treatment.

“We should have sufficient medicine to cater to the need of everyone coming for the treatment of black fungus,” he said.

The chief minister said the city government has set up a four-member panel for efficient distribution of Amphotericin-B injection, used in treatment of mucormycosis, among hospitalized patients.

The committee had received 84 applications for injections on Wednesday, he said and hoped that the Centre will provide Delhi sufficient number of injections.

“We have to stop the spread of the disease and give the best possible treatment to those suffering from it,” Kejriwal said.

The city government will also prepare a detailed plan and issue special SOPs on how to raise awareness among COVID-recovered people for the prevention of the disease.

Hospitals in Delhi have reported a rise in the number of back fungus cases among people recovering from COVID-19 during the second wave of coronavirus and it could be ascribed to “irrational” use of steroids at home without consulting a doctor, medical experts have said.

The fungal infection, which affects the brain, lungs, and sinuses, can be lethal to those suffering from diabetes and having compromised immune systems.

According to Dr Suresh Singh Naruka, Senior Consultant, ENT, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, mucormycosis is more among people with low immunity due to diabetes, kidney disease, liver disorder, old age, cardiac issues or those on medication for auto-immune disease like rheumatoid arthritis.

“If such patients are administered steroids, their immunity reduces further, allowing the fungus to thrive,” he said.

Dr Yudhyavir, Assistant Professor (Anaesthesiology and critical care), AIIMS, said Amphotericin-B used in treatment of mucormycosis is not commonly available and is manufactured in lesser quantities.

Before COVID, the drug was not being used much. Now, the demand has risen, leading to its shortage, he said.

He said steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs, but also reduce immunity and increase blood sugar levels in both diabetics and non-diabetic COVID patients. This is leading to an explosion in the number of black fungus cases.

Dr Mohit Agarwal, Additional Director and Head of Medical Oncology Department, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, said the increase in the number of black fungus cases this year can be attributed to the high COVID caseload, more ‘severe cases’ during the second wave and irrational use of steroids at home without consulting a doctor.

States which have declared Black Fungus as an epidemic

  • The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday declared Black Fungus (mucormycosis) a notifiable disease under the Public Health Act, state’s Health Secy J Radhakrishna said.
  • Amid rising cases of Mucormycosis (black fungus), which is primarily affecting people recovering from COVID-19, the Rajasthan government on Wednesday declared it as an epidemic, officials said.
  • Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today has stated that Mucormycosis (Black Fungus) declared an epidemic in Gujarat.
  • The Telangana government earlier today declared the black fungus as a notifiable disease under the epidemic act.

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