As per the new guidelines handed out to members of district-level task forces by the Women and Child Development (WCD) department, hospitals will now have to enquire about the children of COVID-19 patients, to ensure they are in safe custody while the parents undergo treatment.
The step was taken post an order by the Supreme Court after social media posts bearing the information of children who had lost both parents to Covid-19 began doing the rounds. These posts claimed that these children were up for adoption, which the authorities red-flagged as illegal.
The plan states that each district will set up a 10-member task force, headed by the collector. Other members are the civic chief, police commissioner or superintendent of police in rural areas, secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee, district civil surgeon, district child protection officer and officials of the WCD, health and information departments.
“The increase in cases and deaths due to Covid-19 is also having an impact on children. The situation has given rise to cases where children have lost both parents to Covid-19. This has made such children vulnerable to being victimised and trafficked or pushed into child labour. The task-force is assigned to ensure care and protection of these children,” an official told the Indian Express.
*All pictures are for representational purposes only.