At least four more children suffering from respiratory distress died at two government hospitals in the city between late on Sunday and Monday.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said at the Assembly on Monday that 19 children less than five years old have died. She did not mention the period when these 19 children died.
An official in the state health department said the 19 children had tested positive for the adenovirus. The actual number of deaths caused by pneumonia and respiratory distress would be higher, they said.
One of the four children who died since Sunday afternoon had tested positive for the adenovirus, H1N1 virus and influenza virus, according to the death certificate.
Of the 1,170 swab samples of children tested at the ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) in February, around half were positive for the adenovirus.
“Everyone is concerned about the adenovirus, I’m also very concerned. Someone in my family is also suffering, I don’t say it outside. We love children... 19 children have died so far, out of which 13 had comorbidities,” Mamata said in Assembly.
“Sir (Speaker), there are several kids who are premature babies, who weigh 400g, 500g or 600g... doctors try to save them. There is this problem. Other than that, comorbidities mean that several kids have holes in their hearts or have problems in their heart or lungs. These kids, because of their comorbidities, cannot carry on till the end,” she said.
“Thus, consensually, the number of kids up to 5 years of age who have died is 19. Out of them, 13 have died of comorbidities and six of the adenovirus infection.”
She also said the virus is “coming down (weakening)” but urged children to wear masks for a few more days.
Of the four victims since Sunday afternoon, three children died at the Dr BC Roy Post Graduate Institute of Paediatric Sciences and one child died at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
The girl who died at Calcutta Medical College was admitted there on February 25. She was referred to the hospital from Hooghly Imambara District Hospital. “She died of acute respiratory distress syndrome around 1am on Monday,” said an official of the hospital.
Hooghly Imambara District Hospital is equipped to handle children with respiratory distress, said an official of the health department. “We have ordered an inquiry to find out why she was referred to Calcutta Medical College,” said the official.
At the Dr BC Roy Institute, an eight-month-old boy from Kolkata’s Nonadanga passed away at 5.30am on Monday. The death certificate mentioned acute respiratory distress syndrome and severe pneumonia.
A five-month-old boy from North 24-Parganas’ Gobardanga died at the hospital on Sunday evening. He had tested positive for the adenovirus, H1N1 virus and influenza B virus. The death certificate mentioned acute respiratory distress syndrome and viral pneumonia.
A one-month-old boy from Gaighata in North 24-Parganas passed away at the hospital at 9am on Monday. The death certificate mentioned acute respiratory distress syndrome in a case of severe pneumonia.
A senior official of the state health department said children less than two years old were getting severely ill. The majority of the children being admitted to hospital because of respiratory distress are less than two years old.