Woman and Child Welfare Minister Shashikala Jolle ( Credit : Shashikala Jolle/twitter). Image Source: IANS News

Bengaluru, May 18 : Karnataka on Tuesday resolved to rehabilitate children up to the age of 18 years who have been orphaned by the pandemic, besides setting up special paediatric Covid care centres in 30 districts of the state as part of its rolling out strategy to contain a possible third wave of Covid-19.

The move came after the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) had urged the state government to ramp up childcare infrastructure ahead of a possible third wave, during which children are predicted to be most the vulnerable, as per experts.

After the meeting with the concerned officials, the state's Woman and Child Welfare Minister Shashikala Jolle told reporters that the state government is ready to rehabilitate children who have been orphaned by the second wave of the pandemic, which hit the state since April this year.

"We have decided to set up separate quarantine facilities as well as hostels for those up to 18 years who have lost their both parents," Jolle said at a press conference, adding that such children need not be afraid as the government would come to their rescue.

The minister said that the state government has set up a helpline number - 1098 -- and senior IAS officer Mohan Raj has been appointed as the nodal officer to ensure that such children are taken care of.

She said the woman and child welfare department has identified four circumstances where children are deprived of parental care and require the department's intervention.

"These are, if both the father and the mother die of Covid, if both parents are hospitalised, if any one of them dies of Covid or if one is dead and the other lives in a different area. In any possible scenario, the state government would surely intervene and protect the children below 18 years f age," she explained.

According to her, many schemes have been introduced for children who are orphaned by the pandemic, such as special quarantine facilities for different age groups, among others.

"The department has also come up with a special scheme for the treatment of Covid infected children. This includes establishing separate paediatric Covid care centres in 30 districts for asymptomatic children and special care for those with mild to moderate symptoms," the minister explained.

Answering a question, Jolle said that after the experts warned that a possible third wave may affect young children, the department is gearing up to take steps to mitigate the challenge.

She also claimed that steps have been taken to provide special nutritious food to the households of Anganwadi beneficiaries and special care to Anganwadi children, pregnant women and postnatal care of mothers.

According to health department officials, more than 15 children have died due to Covid during the second wave of the pandemic.

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