NEW DELHI : Amid reports of fatal fungal infections in recovery of coronavirus patients that resulted in vision loss, the center said Tuesday that COVID-19 can be either a mild illness with no symptoms or a serious one with complications like these that have not occurred before.
ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) reported here that they had seen 13 cases of “COVID-19-related mucormycosis” in the past 15 days.
This alarming condition is rare, but not new. What is new is that COVID-19 causes mucormycosis, it said on Monday.
Black fungus, or mucormycosis, has long been a cause of illness and death in transplant patients, as well as ICU and immunodeficient individuals. However, it is the rapid rise in the numbers of unexpected COVID-19 patients that is causing serious concern, the SGRH said in a statement Monday.
“In the past 15 days, ENT surgeons have observed 13 cases of COVID-19-related mucormycosis in over 50 percent of patients, in which vision was lost and the nose and jawbones had to be removed,” it said.
When VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog (Health), was asked to comment on the development, he said at a press conference: “Yes, we are aware of this. This is a fungal disease. Particularly in diabetics, even before COVID- 19 This is quite a devastating disease. There is a deep infection. The cure for it is not easy.
“Since there is widespread systemic spread in COVID-19, there is a dysfunction of the organs. As we get more information about COVID-19, some things have come to the fore … This is new information that is coming to the fore We have to be careful, “he said.
“While COVID-19 can be a mild illness in itself, it can be symptom-free or even a serious illness with serious complications like these that have not arisen before,” the official added.
The SGRH authorities had indicated that mortality is currently in the range of 50 percent (five patients), with certain deaths involving the brain.
Doctors had to perform these resections on about 10 patients in the past 14 days, with “about 50 percent permanently losing their sight”. Five of these patients required intensive care assistance because of the complications involved. There have also been five deaths so far in this subgroup, they said.
Manish Munjal, senior ENT surgeon at the hospital, said, “The frequency with which we observe high morbidity and mortality rates of COVID-19-related mucormycosis has never been seen before and is shocking and alarming.”
Varun Rai, Consultant ENT Surgeon at SGRH, said, “An early clinical suspicion of symptoms such as nasal congestion, swelling of the eye or cheeks, and black dry crusts on the nose should prompt a biopsy at OPD and the start of OPD Antifungal drugs as early as possible. “