A doctor assists a coronavirus patient with black fungus as he receives treatments at the NSCB hospital in Jabalpur, India, on Thursday. AFP
Special hospital wards will be set up in India's capital New Delhi to fight “black fungus,” authorities said on Thursday as the life-threatening infection surged among coronavirus patients.
A rare disease in normal times, authorities say thousands have developed Mucormycosis — or black fungus — across India as it battles a COVID-19 wave that has killed more than 100,000 people in the past month.
An Indian doctor checks a man who recovered from COVID-19 and now infected with black fungus at the Mucormycosis ward of a government hospital in Hyderabad. AFP
Some doctors say the high use of steroids to combat the coronavirus has caused the black fungus explosion.
The disease kills more than 50 per cent of sufferers within days. In some cases, eyes and upper jaws are removed by surgeons to stop the spread of the infection.
New Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said special wards would be set up at three hospitals to handle the increased number of black fungus cases. He also vowed to ensure that all patients will get the medicines they need, with anti-fungal drugs the latest shortage to hit India's already stretched healthcare system.
There are more than 200 black fungus patients in New Delhi hospitals, with dozens on waiting lists for beds, according to media reports.
Indian social media has been flooded with requests from relatives of Mucormycosis sufferers pleading for help to find medicines.
A health worker takes a swab sample from passengers for coronavirus screening at a railway station in New Delhi. AFP
The Rajasthan and Telangana states have declared black fungus epidemics. Maharashtra state alone has reported more than 2,000 cases.
Authorities have not been able to give a figure for Mucormycosis deaths since the coronavirus wave hit six weeks ago.
Black fungus is caused by organisms called mucormycetes, which can enter the body through breathing or skin injuries.
These are naturally present in soil and decaying organic matter, but once inside humans, they can infect air pockets behind the forehead, nose, cheekbones and between the eyes and teeth.
Some doctors say there has been panic use of steroids to combat Covid-19 which has helped the spread of black fungus.
Coronavirus patients with diabetes and a weakened immune system are particularly prone to black fungus.
Many of the drugs used to fight the coronavirus suppress the body's immune system that would normally ward off a fungal infection. The prevalence of diabetes in India is among the highest in the world.
In terms of fatalities, India is the most affected country with nearly three-quarters of total deaths in the region – 67,376 deaths from 3,853,406 cases.
Six months after the coronavirus arrived in Pakistan, the country appears to have dodged the worst of the pandemic, baffling health experts and dampening fears its crowded urban areas and ramshackle hospitals will be overrun.
India's health ministry reported 4,187 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll close to 240,000. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that India will see 1 million COVID deaths by August.
Cases have fallen steadily in some Indian states hit by an initial surge in infections, such as the richest state of Maharashtra and the capital New Delhi, after they imposed stringent lockdowns. Testing rates also at their lowest since Sunday.
Sheikh Mohammed, in turn, conveyed the greetings of Sheikh Khalifa to King Salman and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his wishes of more prosperity and development to the Saudi people.
Al Maqbali said the inauguration of the UAE Embassy in Moroni highlights the profound ties of friendship between the two countries and their keenness to strengthen their overall relations.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Monday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.