West Bengal's Health Department officials on Friday said that nine infants were dead at the State-run Malda Medical College and Hospital.

“ However, we cannot jump to conclusions that there has been a spurt in crib deaths at the hospital,” Asit Biswas, the official spokesperson of the State's Health Department told The Hindu.

Dr. Biswas said of the nine babies, seven were neo-natals while the others were a few months old adding that several of them born with very low birth weights.

Moreover, eight of the nine infants were referred to the hospital from other facilities and might have arrived there in a moribund condition, he added.

Thorough probe

“We conduct a through inquiry into every case of an infant death to see if the proper treatment protocol was followed, which will be conducted this time as well. We have to ascertain if the death was preventable or not,” he said.

The hospital has reported a high incidence of crib deaths in recent months. Nearly 75 crib deaths were reported in the first 20 days of the year.

Deluge of patients

Hospital officials have said that the surge in crib deaths at the hospital was a result of a deluge of patients following the upgradation of the facility to the status of a medical college.

Old infrastructure

Hospital authorities said that upgrading of infrastructure has not kept pace with the sudden increase in patients coming in not only from other districts, but also from neighbouring States.