STATES

Covid-19 ex-gratia: Kin of deceased left to run between government offices

Express News Service

TIRUCHY: Lack of proper mandate has left kin of several persons who succumbed to Covid-19 running to various government offices, wondering whether they are eligible for ex-gratia announced by the government.

The State government had,  earlier this month, announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50,000 to the kin of those who died due to the infection. With guidelines issued by the government not providing any clarity with regard to cases of victims who died as ‘suspected cases,’ several relatives are now running from one government department to another to check if they are eligible for the compensation under the State Disaster Relief Fund.

“A member of my family died during the second wave in April. He was certified as a suspected case and all Covid protocols were followed during his cremation.

When we received the death certificate, the cause of death was mentioned as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Right now, we are not sure if we are eligible for the ex-gratia,” said Latha, a relative of the deceased.

The Government Order mentions that the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council of Medical Research will be followed, and only with death certificates mentioned with cause of death as Covid-19 will be eligible for ex-gratia. However, several doctors who handled Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, said the number of death certificates issued with cause of death as Covid-19 were very less than the actual number of deaths.

A doctor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “If a death is certified as Covid death, it will be included in the government medical bulletin, which is issued every day. However, several cases which were treated and cremated with Covid protocols are issued certificate with cause of death mentioned as COPD, pneumonia, heart attack among others. The government should consider including the valid cases based on the medical reports taken at that time and provide ex-gratia to all of them.”

It may be noted that when the State government provided financial assistance to minor children who lost either single or both parents due to the virus, having a death certificate with Covid-19 as cause of death was not required. All beneficiaries who had medical reports showing symptoms of Covid-like CT scans or prior RT-PCR reports were provided with the compensation. Relatives of many Covid-19 victims have urged the government to consider similar guidelines.

When asked about the steps taken to address the issue in the district, Collector S Sivarasu said, “We have already provided ex-gratia to kin of 518 out of

1,092 who had died due to Covid-19. Steps are being taken to identify the others and provide them compensation. Relatives with valid reports can submit their application in ex-gratia for Covid-19 section on  (http://www.tn.gov.in). The officials concerned will contact the kin and provide compensation if the cases are genuine.”

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