KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 4,422 children have lost at least one of their parents or guardians due to the deadly Covid-19 virus, says Datuk Seri Rina Harun.
The Women, Family and Community Development Minister told Parliament that her ministry was concerned over their welfare and had come up with several initiatives to assist each of them accordingly.
"Based on the statistics from the Education Ministry, as of Sept 13, 2021, a total of 4,422 school children have either lost their parent or guardian or both due to Covid-19, making them orphans since the pandemic hit our country," she told Hannah Yeoh (PH-Segambut) during Ministers' Question Time.
Yeoh wanted to know the number of children who were made orphans due to the pandemic and what was being done to help these children.
Rina added that a total of 154 children had lost both parents due to Covid-19.
She said that the children were eligible to receive financial assistance of RM200 each for those under the age of seven years old while those who are above seven years old will be given RM150 each.
"The financial assistance is to meet the living needs of both the children and family members," she said.
Rina added that the Federal Government had raised the maximum aid limit in the 2021 Budget from RM400 per family to RM1,000.
She noted that counseling services will also be offered to children who have lost their parents while psychological intervention will also be conducted to ensure their well-being.
Yeoh also asked, in a supplementary question, for an explanation on why 33 children were listed to have lost their parents to Covid-19 a month ago, and also asked how the minister would be coordinating data better across different ministries.
Rina answered that the data did not only come from her ministry, but also others including the Education and Health ministries, as well as the police and the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
When asked what “trigger system” the ministry would be introducing to ensure such data would be more integrated while covering children who lost parents for other reasons, Rina said she would answer it through a parliamentary written reply.
“We are updating our data and our system,” she said.