Even as the second Covid wave abates in the country, the steady rise in the number of black fungus infections continue to worry health officials.
Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday announced that 40,845 cases of black fungus or mucormycosis have been reported in the country so far, of which 31,344 are rhinocerebral in nature.
Further, the number of fatalities due to the infection stands at 3,129, the minister added.
Mucormycosis is a rare serious fungal infection caused by fungus Mucor. People can get infected by coming in contact with black fungus spores present in the environment.
According to an official advisory, the infection can also develop in the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, abrasion, burn, or other types of skin trauma.
Nasal blockage, facial or cheekbone pain, blackish and foul-smelling nasal discharge, congestion or redness and swelling of eyes and nose and impaired vision are a few of the main symptoms of the disease.
On Monday, while chairing the 29th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on Covid-19, Vardhan apprised the members that of the total number of black fungus infections, 34,940 patients had Covid (85.5 per cent), 26,187 (about 64.11 per cent) were co-morbid for diabetes, while 21,523 (52.69 per vent) of those infected were on steroids.
A total of 13,083 patients were in the age group of 18-45 years (32 per cent), 17,464 were in the age group of 45-60 years (42 per cent), while 10,082 (24 per cent) patients were 60-plus years of age, a health ministry statement said.
Speaking on Covid-19 vaccination drive, Vardhan said, "India has achieved another milestone in Covid-19 vaccination and has overtaken the US in total number of Covid vaccine doses administered so far. The US started vaccinating against Covid from December 14, 2020, whereas the drive was launched in India on January 16."
Under the new policy of Covid vaccination, the Union government is procuring and supplying (free of cost) 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to states and union territories, he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Till Monday morning (8 am), 32,36,63,297 vaccine doses have been administered in various categories.
Vardhan also presented a snapshot of India's efforts to contain Covid-19.
In the last 24 hours, India had only 46,148 Covid cases, while the active cases significantly declined to 5,72,994, he said.
The recovery rate has been steadily increasing and stands at 96.80 per cent as on date and 58,578 recoveries were registered in the last 24 hours.
Today is the 46th day in succession where our daily recoveries outnumbered new cases. Our case fatality rate has been 1.30 per cent, daily positivity rate at 2.94 per cent and weekly positivity rate also stands at 2.94 per cent, which has been consistently below 5 per cent for 21 days now, Vardhan said.
The GoM strongly reiterated the importance of Covid-appropriate behaviour, the statement said.
Higher level of continued awareness building through sustained IEC campaigns was highlighted. NITI Aayog member (Health) Dr V K Paul emphasised on the benefits of mask wearing and hand hygiene.
Dr Balram Bhargava, Secretary (Health Research) and Director General (ICMR), also cautioned that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has still not subsided as 80 districts in the country still have high positivity, the statement said.
He advised against any laxity at this stage and also explained that vaccines have been found effective against the alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants of Covid-19.
Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director (National Centre for Disease Control), presented a detailed report on the trajectory of Covid in states and UTs.
He presented a granular analysis based on epidemiological findings of the trajectory of the pandemic in each state pointing out critical parameters like growth of cases, concentration of cases in particular districts and other trends like fatality and the variants of Covid-19 driving the infection in the affected states, the statement said.
Active Covid cases continue to be concentrated mainly in Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Odisha, which are reporting growth rate more than the national Covid-19 growth rate, it said.
While 19 states are reporting fatality figures in single digit (less than 10), four states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are reporting more than 100 deaths daily.
Neerja Sekhar, Additional Secretary, Information and Broadcasting, apprised the GoM on how issues like vaccine hesitancy are being addressed through different mediums, the statement said.
Vardhan was joined by Hardeep S Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Nityanand Rai, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health.
(With PTI inputs)