India to provide scholarships, counselling to those orphaned by COVID-19

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MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's federal government will provide educational scholarships, mental health counselling and health insurance to children who have been orphaned by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

"For those who have lost a loved one to coronavirus, the change it has brought to their lives is so difficult," Modi said during an online event as he announced government benefits for minor children who have lost both parents to COVID-19.

More than 524,000 people have died since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic in India, according to official estimates, most of them during its devastating second wave last year, when hospitals ran out of oxygen and beds and millions fell sick.

Under the federal government scheme, children who have lost both parents to the coronavirus from March 11, 2020 to February 2022 will be given, among other things, free admission to a nearby school, schoolbooks and a sum of 1 million Indian rupees ($12,899.60) once they turn 23 years of age, according to a government statement.

During the second wave in 2021, many children were left without a carer https://www.reuters.com/world/india/pleas-help-india-covid-19-leaves-children-without-carers-2021-05-06 because both parents were ill and hospitalised with COVID-19, raising alarm bells among activists and government officials.

($1 = 77.5218 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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