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DailyOh! Black fungus is now an epidemic, why Didi kept the PM waiting

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived 30 minutes late for the review meeting on Cyclone Yaas with Prime Minister Modi.

VARIETY  |   6-minute read  |   28-05-2021

As if one calamity was not enough, nature has blighted us with another one. The microbial troubles for mankind just don’t seem to end. The Covid-19 pandemic is continuing on its carnage and now added to that, we have to deal with the black fungus that has been declared an 'epidemic'.

This comes in line with the latest development on Thursday when the Delhi government declared mucormycosis, commonly known as black fungus, as a notified disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

Can’t say we didn’t see this coming. On May 21, as in last Friday, Delhi had about 200 cases of the fungal disease. By May 27 (yesterday), six days later, that number had shot up to 773. This is an increase of nearly 290 per cent, to put it in perspective. Of these, 150 cases were registered in only one day — May 26.

Here is what the black fungus — mucormycetes — looks under a microscope. (Photo: ScienceDirect)

Declaring it as an epidemic has been done because "the ordinary provisions of law for the time being in force are insufficient for the purpose" of tackling the "outbreak of the dangerous epidemic disease." This is as per the Delhi government's official notification.

This brings us to the question — what exactly is an epidemic? Our Word Of The Day meansa widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time,” according to the dictionary. The word is derived from Ancient Greek word, ἐπιδήμιος (epidḗmios), which means “among the people” that itself comes from ἐπί (epí) meaning “upon” and δῆμος (demos) meaning “people”.

Epidemic and pandemic have similar Greek roots. The difference being that an epidemic affects a large number of people within a community, population, or region. A pandemic, on the other hand, is an epidemic that has spiralled out of control and spread over multiple countries or continents. No points for guessing what consitutes a pandemic at this point in time.

Mucormycosis is spreading faster than you think. With nearly 800 cases, Delhi has declared the black fungus as an epidemic. (Photo: Associated Press)

Covid-19, before being declared a pandemic, was initially an epidemic in China. We fervently hope that mucormycosis is contained before it spreads any further. The world has enough fatal microbes on its plate already.  

However, an ICMR study reveals otherwise. According to the study that has thrown up some worrying concerns, 56 per cent of Covid-19 patients have died not because of the virus, but because of a secondary infection (bacterial or fungal). Which means that even if the virus spares you, there is a good chance that the fungus and bacteria won’t. In short, stay at home and evade the virus (and the bacteria and fungi too). No one but you is responsible for your health.

Rahul Gandhi, however, thinks otherwise. Holding PM Modi responsible for the second Covid wave in the country, he has hit out saying that need strategy to combat the virus. "The Prime Minister's 'nautanki' is the reason behind the second wave of Covid-19 in India. He did not understand Covid. India's death rate is a lie. The government should tell the truth," Rahul Gandhi said.

The PM, meanwhile, took an aerial survey of the areas affected by Cyclone Yaas.

PM Modi undertook an aerial survey of Odisha and West Bengal in the wake of Cyclone Yaas. (Photo: Twitter/ @PMOIndia)

You might remember that he took a similar aerial survey in Gujarat not too long ago in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae. The PM chaired a review meeting in Bengal, just as he had done in Gujarat. However, the meeting in Bengal was nothing like the meeting in Gujarat. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee arrived 30 minutes late for the review meeting with the PM. On her part, Didi claims that she was not made aware of the meeting in time.

Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee arrived 30 minutes late for the review meeting on Cyclone Yaas with PM Modi. (Photo: India Today)

However, the buzz is that she was irked by the guests invited to the meeting which included her protégé-turned- bête noire — Suvendu Adhikari, who is now the Leader of Opposition in Bengal. If that were to be believed, it does seem petty indeed that Didi put her ego above the interests of the people who made her the CM again.

In other happenings from Kolkata, the Calcutta High Court has granted interim bail to all four TMC leaders arrested in the Narada case. The leaders, including two ministers, were arrested by the CBI on May 17 and placed under house arrest two days later. The arrest was followed by high-level drama in the state, including protests that led to sheep being herded outside Governor Dhankhar’s residence.

Along almost the same latitude on the hemisphere, Hong Kong saw yet another blow in its fight for democracy. HK’s opposition-devoid legislature has approved Beijing's overhaul of its political system — the biggest in the past quarter-century since British rule ended in 1997.

The new laws reduce the number of directly-elected seats, implying that the public will have fewer voting powers. The majority of the new lawmakers will now be selected by a reliably pro-Chinese committee. Further, every candidate must first be vetted by national security officers. To understand Hong Kong’s new election rules, read this.

In short, this is one step further by the Chinese Communist Party to smother dissent and dismantle Hong Kong's democracy movement. The movement has been an ongoing struggle in HK and was at its peak in 2019 that saw anti-government protests and strife against the oppressive governmental control.

Yet another blow to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy. (File photo: Reuters)

However, believe it or not, there was a time when Hongkongers were quite enthusiastic to be a part of China. In 1997, the locals were excited to see the end of British colonial rule and were looking forward to being reunited with China. The caveat, however, was that they were led to believe that Hong Kong’s separate system would remain unchanged for at least 50 years. So much so, that in the month before the June 1997 handover, a poll by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) showed that 35 per cent of residents were positive about being a part of China and only nine per cent were sceptical about it. The remaining 48 per cent were neutral. All that they wanted was the oppressive British rule to end. But little did they know that they were bargaining for the devil against the deep sea.

To their horror, the Hongkongers subsequently realised that the mainland government had no intentions of allowing autonomy in HK. In 2017, two decades since the handover, a similar poll by HKU showed that only 3.1 per cent of young Hongkongers identified themselves as “broadly Chinese”. The one thing HK learnt is to trust China to not keep its word.

The revolt for democracy will continue in Hong Kong. Back home, the desi band Swadesi has been kicking up its revolt against social injustice with their album Chetavni. If your spirits have been bogged down, we recommend you listen to Chetavni over the weekend to rekindle the fire within.

See you on Monday!

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