Many covid survivors in Gujarat become blind as black fungus claims eyesight

News Network
May 8, 2021

Ahmedabad, May 8: Cases of Mucormycosis, a fungal infection, affecting some Covid-19 survivors are on the rise in Gujarat which has left many patients blind, doctors and officials claimed on Saturday.

Mathur Savani, chairman of Surat-based Kiran Super multi-speciality hospital, said mucormycosis was detected in a patient who had recovered from Covid-19 disease around three weeks back.

"This number has gone up to around 50 now while 60 more such patients are awaiting treatment," Savani told PTI.

The hospital, which is managed by a trust, has been receiving several patients diagnosed with Mucormycosis who are being referred from various areas in Surat and other parts of Gujarat, he said.

"As of now, 50 mucormycosis patients are getting treated at Kiran Hospital and 60 others are awaiting (treatment). They all came to our hospital in the last three weeks. All the patients who are suffering from mucormycosis had recovered from Covid-19 recently," said Savani.

According to Savani, seven such patients have lost their eyesight so far.

Meanwhile, considering the growing number of patients with mucormycosis, Surat's civil hospital has set up a separate facility for their treatment, said in-charge Resident Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Ketan Naik.

He said a separate facility with the dedicated medical staff has been created which will soon start treating patients with mucormycosis.

In Ahmedabad, at least five patients with mucormycosis are being operated upon every day at the civil hospital at Asarva, a senior doctor said.

"In Ahmedabad, we are receiving 5 to 10 such cases at the civil hospital, especially since the second wave of Covid-19 started. These patients are being examined on priority and operated on as early as possible," said Dr Devang Gupta, ENT doctor at the city civil hospital.

He said various resources, including manpower, equipment and injection required for the treatment of mucormycosis patients, have been provided by the government.

"At least one out of the five such cases is related to eyes. Several of them (patients) are suffering from blindness," he said.

Niti Aayog Member (Health) V K Paul on Friday said mucormycosis is being found in patients with Covid-19 disease.

"It is caused by a fungus named mucor, which is found on wet surfaces. It, to a large extent, is happening to people who have diabetes. It is very uncommon in those who are not diabetic. There is no big outbreak and we are monitoring it," he had said.

According to Dr Paul, mucor attacks people with uncontrolled sugar.

He had also said when the same Covid-19 patient is put on oxygen support, which has a humidifier containing water, the chances of him or her getting the fungal infection increase.

As of May 7, Gujarat's Covid-19 tally stood at 6,58,036 while the overall toll is 8,154. The total count of recoveries stood at 5,03,497. 


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News Network
June 11,2021

New Delhi, June 11: A group of public health experts, including doctors from AIIMS and members from the national taskforce on Covid-19, have said that mass, indiscriminate and incomplete vaccination can trigger emergence of mutant strains and recommended that there is no need to inoculate those who had documented coronavirus infection.

In their latest report, the experts from Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) said vaccinating the vulnerable and those at risk, instead of mass population-wide inoculation including children, should be the aim at present.

"The present situation of the pandemic in the country demands that we should be guided by the logistics and epidemiological data to prioritise vaccination rather than opening vaccination for all age groups at this stage.

"Opening all fronts simultaneously will drain human and other resources and would be spreading it too thin to make an impact at the population level," the experts said in the report which has been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Highlighting that vaccination of young adults and children is not supported by evidence and would not be cost effective, they said unplanned inoculation can promote mutant strains.

"Mass, indiscriminate, and incomplete vaccination can also trigger emergence of mutant strains. Given the rapid transmission of infection in various parts of the country, it is unlikely that mass vaccination of all adults will catch up with the pace of natural infection among our young population," they said in the report.

There is no need to vaccinate people who had documented Covid-19 infection. These people may be vaccinated after generating evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection, the recommendations stated.

Evidence-based flexibility in vaccine schedules may need to be considered for areas or populations experiencing surge on account for specific variants; for example, a reduced interval for the second dose of Covishiled for areas with surge due to the delta variant.  

"Vaccine is a strong and powerful weapon against the novel coronavirus. And like all strong weapons it should neither be withheld nor used indiscriminately; but should be employed strategically to derive maximum benefit in a cost-effective way," they said. 

While it makes perfect sense to vaccinate all adults, the reality is that the country is in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with limited availability of vaccines, the report said.

In this scenario the focus should be to reduce deaths, majority of which are among older age groups and those with co-morbidities or obesity. Vaccinating young adults, given the present constraints, will not be cost-effective, they stated. 

The report suggested implementing repeated local level serosurveys in real time at the end of the second wave to map the vulnerability at district level to guide vaccination strategy and long term follow up of the cohort of recovered Covid-19 patients to document re-infection, severity and outcome to provide evidence base on duration of immunity after natural infection.

Ongoing research on vaccine effectiveness under field conditions by following cohorts of vaccinated and unvaccinated in different age strata should be prioritised.

Stating the current wave is largely attributable to multiple variants, the experts pointed out that India has done genome sequencing of less than 1 per cent of its positive samples and also lags behind other high incidence countries in another crucial measure, sequence per 1,000 cases.

Achieving a target of genomic sequencing of 5 per cent positive samples looks challenging at the moment, but all efforts should be made to reach at least 3 per cent mark, they recommended while appreciating setting up of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) of 10 national laboratories timely and addition of 17 more laboratories.

The molecular epidemiology investigations need to be accelerated with INSACOG scientists, field epidemiologists and clinical specialists working in synergy to delineate the epidemiological features of the variants with specific reference to transmissibility and fatality. 
Genetic sequences need to be tracked to delineate virus transmission both across the community and in health care settings. It can detect outbreaks that may otherwise be missed by traditional methods, the experts pointed out.

They also recommended that syndromic management approach should be rolled out in a planned manner after sensitisation of healthcare staff, along with the optimum utilisation of laboratory testing.

There is an acute shortage of testing facilities for SARS-CoV-2 in rural and peri-urban areas. 

The sensitivity of RAT is quite low; there are chances that some truly positive cases would remain unidentified and thus continue to spread the disease.

"Timely testing of each and every symptomatic patient is not possible and will put a huge burden on the health system and will delay the isolation and treatment. The optimal solution in such a situation is to adopt a syndromic management approach. It should put focus on making diagnosis based on clinical symptoms and epidemiologically linked suspects," they said.

They further recommended that the vaccination status of all individuals tested for Covid-19 must be entered into the sample referral form in the RTPCR app both for individuals tested by RTPCR and RAT. 

The collected information must be analysed periodically to know the status of vaccinated individuals with regards to Covid-19 and its severity including mortality.

As way forward, the experts said that district level sero surveillance may be planned with the methodology of EPI cluster sampling.

" If the seroprevalence at district level, is more than 70 per cent (on account of a combination of natural infection and vaccination,) there should not be any lockdown and return to normalcy should be attempted. 

"This will also help in prioritizing the districts for vaccination i.e. districts with lower seroprevalence should be given priority for vaccination. A fine balance is needed to be maintained between life and livelihood."

The experts also said that if very large number of individuals are vaccinated at a fast pace with limited resources for monitoring of adverse events following immunization (AEFI), some adverse events and deaths will be missed. Also, while some of these AEFI may be coincidental, it may end up contributing to vaccine hesitancy. 


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News Network
June 14,2021

Lucknow, June 14: Shriram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust general secretary Champat Rai was on Sunday accused by two opposition leaders of buying a piece of land worth Rs 2 crore at an inflated price of Rs 18.5 crore for the Ram temple premises with help from Trust's member Anil Mishra.

The allegation, strongly refuted by Rai, was made by two opposition leaders — AAP’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh and a former minister in the Samajwadi government, Pawan Pandey.

Terming it a case of money laundering, Singh and Pandey both sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate into the land purchase for the temple premises. Both the leaders alleged that Rai purchased the land, measuring 1.208 hectares and located in Bag Bjaisi village under Sadar tehsil of Ayodhya district for a price of Rs 18.50 crore from the first purchaser, who had bought it minutes earlier on March 18 this year from its original owners for a sum of Rs two crores.

"Champat Rai, the general secretary of Shriram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust with the help of Trust’s member Anil Mishra bought the land worth Rs 2 crore at Rs 18.5 crore. This is a case of money laundering and the government should get it probed by the ED and CBI," Singh told reporters in Lucknow.

SP’s former Ayodhya MLA Pandey reiterated the same allegation in the temple town. Quoting entries of the registered sale deed of the land, Singh explained that the land was first purchased by Sultan Ansari on March 18 this year from its original owner Kusum Pathak, wife of Harish Kumar Pathak alias Baba Hardas for a sum of Rs 2 crore. Minutes later, the same land was purchased by Trust's general secretary Rai for a sum of Rs 18.50 crore from Ansari, Singh said, again quoting entries of the second sale deed showing the transaction between Ansari and Rai.

Trust member Anil Mishra and Ayodhya mayor Hrishikesh Upadhyay testified the land sale deed as witnesses and were witnesses to the purchase of the land by Rai as the Trust’s general secretary, Singh alleged. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government must initiate a thorough probe by the CBI and ED, and the corrupt persons should be sent to jail, as it is the question of faith of crore devotees of Lord Ram, who have given their hard-earned money for the construction of the Ram temple," Singh said.

He also said in any trust, the board makes a proposal for the purchase of land. "How come in five minutes, this proposal was passed and the land was immediately purchased?" he asked. Though Mishra could not be contacted for his comments over the allegations, Rai refuted them in a statement. "Allegations of even assassinating Mahatma Gandhi were levelled on us. We do not fear allegations. I will study the allegations levelled on us, and probe them," he said, in a statement. 


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News Network
June 3,2021


Mysuru, June 3: Karnataka IAS officer Shilpa Nag has announced her resignation from civil service at a press conference alleging ‘harassment’ by Mysuru Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri.

Shilpa Nag, a 2014 batch IAS officer, is a Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) Commissioner since February 2021. Speaking to reporters, Nag said, “Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri is constantly calling the higher-ups and complaining to them that no work is being done in the MCC. There is no conducive environment to work in Mysuru, and thus, I am resigning from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and will send the resignation letter to the Chief Secretary seeking to be relieved from my duties.”

Shilpa Nag also accused Sindhuri of showing personal grudge against her. “If she (Sindhuri) has any personal grudge against me let her take it out on me but why target the officials who are all working non-stop to combat the pandemic since the second wave started? The atmosphere in Mysuru was too stifling to function anymore,” Nag alleged.

She also alleged that Sindhuri is targeting Nag since the MCC is doing a good job. “Rohini Sindhuri is targeting me after media reports stated that the MCC is doing a good job in controlling the Covid-19 in the city,” she said.

Meanwhile, Sindhuri denied the allegations leveled by Nag and said they are totally false and baseless.

Reacting to this incident, Mysuru district in-charge minister S.T. Somashekar said that the government will not accept Shilpa Nag’s resignation. Speaking to reporters in Bengaluru, he said, “Shilpa Nag has done good work as a city corporation commissioner, our government will not accept the resignation and I will talk to Chief minister BS Yediyurappa regarding the issue.”

Somashekar also said he will go to Mysuru tomorrow (Friday) and talk to Shilpa Nag and convince her to take back her resignation.

Recently, Mysuru-Kodagu MP Pratap Simha and Rohini Sindhuri also engaged in a war of words regarding closing down 16 private COVID Care Centres (CCCs) or step-down hospitals in Mysuru district.

Simha had written a letter to Somashekar and sent copies to the CM and State Chief Secretary, seeking a probe into Sindhuri’s conduct and the District Health Officer (DHO) for closing down 16 private COVID Care Centres. He stated in his letter that the investigation must be done on who accorded permission to open the CCCs or step-down hospitals and closing it down.


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