Delhi govt declares black fungus epidemic as number of cases rises

New Delhi: Amid rising incidents of black fungus in the national capital, the Delhi government on Thursday declared it an epidemic with Lt Governor Anil Baijal issuing regulations under the Epidemic Diseases Act to contain and manage cases of the deadly mucormycosis in the city.

According to a senior official, 153 cases of black fungus or mucormycosis were recorded on Thursday, taking the total number of such cases in Delhi to over 770.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal On Wednesday said there were around 620 cases of black fungus in the city.

A government notification released on Thursday said “the Lt Governor of NCT of Delhi is satisfied that the NCT of Delhi is threatened with the outbreak of a dangerous epidemic disease, namely mucormycosis, among immune-compromised patients, especially COVID-19 patients being treated with steroids and that the ordinary provision of law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose”.

According to a notification issued by the Delhi health department, the new regulations have been issued under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

The Delhi Epidemic Diseases (Mucormycosis) Regulations, 2021, to be valid for a year from the date of publication, states all healthcare facilities, government or private, will report each and every suspected or confirmed cases of black fungus in the national capital to the city health department through a medical superintendent or medical director or hospital in-charge or chief district medical officer of the district concerned.

Nearly 20 states have declared black fungus or mucormycosis as a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had recently said.

All healthcare facilities in Delhi will follow guidelines for screening, diagnosis and management of black fungus issued by the Health Ministry, according to the regulations.

“No person or institution or organisation will spread any information or material for the management of black fungus without prior permission of the health department,” the new regulation stated.

The regulations further said that any person or institution or organisation disobeying these new norms on black fungus shall be deemed to be committing an offence under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).

Of the over 600 cases of black fungus reported here till May 26, around 200 were recorded on May 23 alone, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Wednesday.

Mucormycosis or black fungus is more common among people whose immunity has got lowered due to Covid, diabetes, kidney disease, liver or cardiac disorders, age-related issues, or those on medication for auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.