Doctors at a leading private facility in Delhi have found multiple recovering cases of coronavirus patients diagnosed with a fatal fungal infection “caused by COVID-19” that caused nearly half of them to lose their eyesight, hospital authorities said on Monday.
In the past 15 days, ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) have seen 13 cases of “COVID-19-related mucormycosis”.
This alarming condition is rare, but not new. COVID-19, which causes mucormycosis, is new.
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 undreamt-of COVID-19 patients that is creating the serious concern, the SGRH said in a statement.
“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.
Mortality is currently in the range of 50 percent (five patients), with certain deaths involving the brain, according to hospital authorities.
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, the statement said.
According to Manish Munjal, the hospital’s chief ENT surgeon, “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 in the OPD and the start of antifungal drugs immediately as early as possible “.
Delhi recorded 1,376 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the lowest in more than three and a half months, although the death toll rose to 10,074 with 60 new deaths.
The positivity rate fell from 2.74 percent on Sunday to 2.15 percent, the authorities said.
So far, according to Monday’s bulletin, 5,83,509 patients have recovered, been discharged or have migrated.
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