As many as 14 children have died of diphtheria in the past 15 days in the Indian capital, health officials said Saturday.

These deaths occurred in two government hospitals — Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital and Lok Nayak Hospital.

“While 13 children died of diphtheria in Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital, one death has been reported from Lok Nayak Hospital,” a health official said.

Adesh Gupta, the mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, which runs Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital, has reportedly constituted a high-level panel to probe the deaths.

So far, 300 cases of diphtheria have been reported this year. Last year, over 550 cases were reported in Delhi, of which 70 people died.

Diphtheria is an infectious bacterial disease that affects the throat and upper airways, and in some cases it can be fatal.

Xinhua