Black Fungus is new challenge, need to focus on precaution, preparation to deal with it: PM Modi


New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday warned against the “new challenge of Black Fungus” and said there was a need for precaution and preparation to deal with it.

His remarks came at an interaction with the doctors, paramedical staff, and other frontline health workers of Varanasi over the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“In our ongoing fight against COVID-19, a new challenge of black fungus has surfaced. We must focus on precaution and preparation to deal with it,” the Prime Minister said.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan also held a meeting today where he expressed his concern over the spread of black fungus, which is a post-COVID complication.

“Rising number of Black Fungus cases is a concern. Now we are ramping up the production of drug used for the treatment of the disease. Every state has been asked to put black fungus in the notified list,” he said.

The Union Minister also said that coronavirus can affect children in the future and the government is also preparing to combat a third wave.

From a medical perspective, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria stressed that there has been an increasing trend in the fungal infection being seen in COVID patients. This was also reported to some extent during the SARS outbreak. Uncontrolled diabetes with COVID can also predispose the development of mucormycosis.

“Steroid use has become much more in this COVID wave and steroids given when not indicated in mild or early disease can cause a secondary infection. Those given high doses of steroids when not indicated can lead to high blood sugar levels and a high chance of Mucormycosis,” Dr Guleria told ANI.

“We have to look at prevention of this outbreak. Three factors are very important – good control of blood sugar levels, those on steroids must monitor blood sugar levels regularly, and be careful about when to give steroids and their dosage,” he added.

Sharing his views on Black Fungus, Medanta Chairman Dr Naresh Trehan said the first symptoms of COVID-associated mucormycosis include pain or stuffiness in the nose, inflammation on the cheek, fungus patch inside the mouth and swelling in the eyelid.

“It requires aggressive medical treatment. The key to controlling black fungus is the judicious use of steroids and good control of diabetes,” he said.

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday urged the states to make Mucormycosis, commonly known as Black Fungus, a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.

Under the Act, all states will have to report all confirmed or suspected cases of this condition, seen in recovering COVID patients, to the Health Ministry. The infection has been recorded in several parts of the country.

The Centre has said that the Health Ministry along with the Department of Pharmaceuticals and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) are making efforts to significantly ramp up the domestic production of Amphotericin-B, the drug used for the treatment of Mucormycosis.

Union Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya had informed on Thursday that five more manufacturers have been given licenses to manufacture the drug within the country and the production by the existing five manufacturers is being ramped up.

After a spike in black fungus cases was reported in several states across the country, Rajasthan, Telangana, Gujarat, Haryana, and Assam have declared it as an epidemic.

AIIMS has also released new guidelines for detection and care in cases of Black Fungus that has claimed the lives of several COVID patients in the country. (ANI)