Concerns in India over hundreds orphaned by COVID-19


New Delhi, 31 May: Five-year-old Pratham and his 10-month-old brother Ayush lost their father to Covid in April. Days later, at a different Delhi hospital, they lost their mother.

Their world had changed and they didn't even know it. They couldn't understand why their parents were taking so long to come home. Relatives told Pratham that his mum and dad had gone out for work. But Pratham kept asking, and each day became more difficult than the last.

The relatives decided to contact a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works with orphaned children. The NGO says it hopes someone will adopt both Pratham and his brother.

Sonia, 12, and her brother Amit, 7, lost their father in the first wave of the pandemic in June last year and their mother in April this year. Their paternal grandmother is looking after them at the moment. She is worried about their future but doesn't even want to consider registering them for adoption.

"Who will look after these kids after me?" she said. "These children are the legacy of my son and daughter-in-law. A lot of people are coming to ask for adoption. How can I give them away?"

These are not isolated stories. Covid has devastated families across India, orphaning many children.

Smriti Irani, minister for women and child welfare, recently tweeted that both parents of at least 577 children had died with coronavirus between 1 April and 25 May. Experts say this number is likely a significant underestimate.


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