The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Centre to provide more vials of Amphotericin-B to Maharashtra amid an increase in the number of cases of mucormycosis or “black fungus”, Live Law reported. The court noted that the Centre’s allocation of the medicine was not rational, since it was not made according to the requirement, PTI reported.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation related to “black fungus” cases and Maharashtra’s preparations for a possible third wave of the pandemic.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, appearing for the Maharashtra government, told the court that 82 patients had died of mucormycosis in the state in the last three days. In all, 600 patients have died due to the disease in Maharashtra, he said, according to PTI.

The judges said they feared that the 82 patients died due to the lack of the medicine. “Do you have figures of any unutilised drugs? they asked. “Please find out [if] these are deaths due to want of medicines. We don’t want that there are deaths due to want of medicines.”

The court noted that Maharashtra accounted for 25% of the nearly 23,254 cases in the country, and the drug allocation was inadequate and not proportional to the number of active cases in the state, PTI reported.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Centre said, Maharashtra was allocated 4,060 vials of Amphotericin-B per day between May 11 and June 9. A patient needs six vials of the medicine each day.

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“But allocation [of the medicine] is not 25% for Maharashtra,” the bench said to Singh, according to Live Law. “Its almost 20%. See to it that allocation is increased. Eighty two patients have died in 32 hours.”

The court pointed out from the Centre’s affidavit that Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep had been allotted 500 vials of the medicine, even though they had no “black fungus” cases.

“This allocation doesn’t seem rational,” the court said, according to PTI. “Are the medicines really reaching where they are required? What is the distribution criteria?”

The court pointed out that the allocation of Amphotericin-B had to be dynamic and need-based across the country.

The bench also asked the government to consider importing Amphotericin-B if the domestic production was falling short of the need.

Black fungus” disease 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. It mainly affects people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness and most commonly affects the sinuses or the lungs after inhaling fungal spores from the air, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Publicise advisory on handling Covid-19 cases among children

The Bombay High Court also directed Maharashtra to broadcast its advisory on handling coronavirus cases among children, Live Law reported.

During Thursday’s hearing, the state’s counsel informed the court that a detailed conference had been organised with health officials on the subject. More than 65,000 ASHA or Accredited Social Health Activists also attended the conference.

“It [the conference] covered various factors like symptoms, what’s healthy, how to use oximeter etc,” Kumbhakoni told the court. “We have given detailed instructions about breast feeding and what precautions are to be taken.”

The court praised the conference and said. “Either by electronic or whatever other means this should reach people. Why not [broadcast] on all Marathi news channels? They would welcome it, as ultimately its social responsibility of channels also.”