Two more people died of diphtheria at a civic hospital in New Delhi, taking the toll to 26 in the past month, unidentified officials told PTI on Sunday.
Five of those who have died were from Delhi while the rest were from neighbouring states. Most of the patients admitted at hospitals are from Uttar Pradesh.
The latest deaths occurred at Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital in Kingsway Camp in the city’s northern part. “From September 6 onwards, there have been over 203 admissions at the municipal hospital, out of whom 25 have died,” a senior official told the news organisation. One death was reported from the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in central Delhi.
Diphtheria is an infectious disease that primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs, according to the World Health Organization. It is preventable with a vaccine. India accounted for 60% of all diphtheria cases globally last year.
Last week, North Delhi Mayor Adesh Gupta suspended Sunil Kumar Gupta, the medical superintendent of Maharishi Valmiki hospital, for alleged lapses in connection with the deaths. The civic body reportedly did not have anti-diphtheria serum, the antitoxin used for treating the disease, since February.
Sunil Kumar Gupta had earlier said the procurement was delayed as renovation was taking place at the Central Research Institute in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, where the serum is produced. Gupta, however, said he had approached Union Health Minister JP Nadda to get the serum and it has now been supplied to the hospital.