There are 8,848 cases of mucormycosis or “black fungus” across the country, Union minister Sadananda Gowda said on Saturday. The rare fungal infection has sprung up in patients recovering from the coronavirus.

The minister added that 23,680 additional vials of Amphotericin-B, the drug used to treat the infection, have been allocated to the states.

According to the break-up provided by Gowda, Gujarat has been allotted 5,800 vials of the drug. The state has reported 2,281 cases of the fungal infection, the maximum in the country.

Maharashtra, with 2,000 cases of black fungus, was allotted 5,090 vials of Amphotericin-B. Andhra Pradesh, which has recorded 910 cases of the infection, got 2,310 vials. Madhya Pradesh received 1,830 vials of the medicine, while Rajasthan got 1,780.

Delhi has recorded 197 cases of the fungal infection and was allotted 670 vials of Amphotericin-B from the Centre.

Black fungus is caused by a fungus named mucor, which is found on wet surfaces. The symptoms of the infection include headache, fever, pain under the eyes, nasal or sinus congestion, and partial loss of vision, among others.

One of the potential causes of the fungal infection is reportedly the use of steroids for Covid-19 treatment, which increases blood sugar levels.

Steroids reduce inflammation in the lungs for Covid-19 and the body’s immune system goes into overdrive to fight off the virus. However, they also may reduce immunity and push up blood sugar levels in both diabetic and non-diabetic Covid-19 patients, according to doctors quoted by the BBC. The drop in immunity might then exacerbate the “black fungus”.

On Thursday, the Centre had asked the states and Union Territories to declare mucormycosis a notifiable disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.

The move would mean that medical facilities will have to report all suspected and confirmed cases to the health department of the respective states. Medical superintendents of all private and government hospitals will have to send a daily report about cases of “black fungus” to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.