Laxman*, a young boy from Munipally mandal, lost his father to COVID-19 recently. However, he could not manage to obtain a certificate that showed coronavirus as the cause of death. Consequently, he became ineligible for various benefits being offered by the government to such bereaved persons.
So, that begs the question: has the government efforts to reduce the official number of COVID deaths hit families of those who succumbed to the infection? It is a firm ‘yes’ from officials who do not wish to be quoted.
“It is mandatory to produce a death certificate that shows coronavirus as reason for one to avail government benefits. The State government has been proposing to admit children of COVID-deceased persons to Gurukul/ residential Schools. We are recommending the names of children who lost their parents due to the virus, but at some point, there will be requirement of a death certificate to this effect. Then it will become a problem. Same might be the case with any Central government schemes, which we are yet to look into,” said an officer of Women and Child Welfare department, on the condition of anonymity
The State government has been offering immediate ration sufficient for one month by Women and Child Welfare department and ₹2,000 stipend for children along with being offered support to continue their education. However, the family members of those who lost their parents have to call 040-23733665 and explain their situation. The details are forwarded to the officials of the districts concerned and in turn, they collect the details at the ground level. The department is also using services of Anganwadis and ASHAs at village level.
“Getting death certificates of parents has become a problem as the officials concerned are not mentioning coronavirus as cause of death. In some cases, a patient died due to virus-related complications, but it was not certified so. We don’t know what to do or how to help such families,” said another officer.
According sources, more than 300 children, who lost one of their parents to COVID or a related complications, were yet to get the appropriate death certificates which is crucial to get any benefits that would be announced by the State or Union governments.
“The reason for death can be mentioned after post-mortem, that too in medico legal cases. Then only certificates can be issued. But the problem is in many corona cases is that postmortem was not done at all. In some other cases, the death was mentioned as cardiac issue or related to high blood pressure which were result of post-COVID complications. A treating doctor can mention the reason of death,” said a doctor.
(*Name changed to protect identity)