India’s top court orders $923 compensation for each COVID death

It is not known how many countries have offered such compensation for COVID-19 deaths. In Thailand, a man filed a lawsuit against the government’s COVID-19 task force and the chief minister and two other government officials, demanding a compensation of 4.53 million baht ($184,070) for negligence of duty causing his brother’s death.

India’s Supreme Court ordered state administrative bodies to brush past long bureaucratic procedures and settle all claims within 30 days of submission.

Gaurav Kumar Bansal, the lawyer who brought the litigation to India’s top court was reported by The New York Times as saying that “This is a herculean task for the government.”

Diana Khumanthem, 30, lost both her mother and sister to the virus in May and treatment costs wiped out the family’s savings.Credit:AP

The country’s healthcare system buckled under a devastating rise in infections in April and May, pushed largely by the more infectious and dangerous Delta variant, which killed at the minimum 170,000 people in May alone, official data showed.

The modest payments will help Indians such as Diana Khumanthem, 30, from Imphal, in the north-eastern Indian state of Manipur, who have been left mired in debt by healthcare costs while mourning family members.

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Khumanthem lost both her mother and sister to the virus in May. Treatment costs wiped out the family’s savings, and when the private hospital where she died wouldn’t release her sister’s body for last rites until a bill of about $6850 was paid, she pawned the family’s gold jewellery to moneylenders.

When that wasn’t enough, friends, relatives and her sister’s colleagues helped. But she was left owing about $1500.

In recent months, deaths from the coronavirus have fallen severely in India, and daily infections have settled around 34,000 since August.

India’s health ministry did not respond to a request for comment on calculating the allocation amount.

India has reported 33.87 million infections overall, the second-highest globally behind the United States.

Reuters, AP

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