Only 15 of 147 death claims of public health workers fighting COVID-19 have been paid out so far under an insurance scheme announced in March, according to a Finance Ministry statement.

At a review meeting on Monday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was briefed about the current status of the scheme launched as part of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna by Health Ministry officials and the New India Assurance Company.

“Of the 147 intimations received till date, claim documents have been submitted for 87, out of which 15 have been paid, four approved for payment while 13 are under examination,” said the statement.

“A total of 55 claims have been found ineligible out of which 35 claims fall outside the scope of the cover like police personnel, municipal workers not related to hospitals, people from education [and] revenue departments,”the statement added. Another 20 claims submitted have other causes of death, such as cardiac arrest, rather than COVID-19 itself.

Under the scheme, New India Assurance is to provide accidental death insurance coverage of ₹50 lakh each for 22 lakh health workers in government hospitals fighting the spread of the virus at personal risk, including ASHA workers, medical sanitary workers, paramedics, ward boys, technicians, nurses and doctors. All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of the Centre as well as States are covered under this scheme.

It is not known how many of these workers have been infected or died due to the virus in the past four months, as the government does not provide occupation-specific COVID demographics.

During Monday’s meeting, the Finance Minister highlighted the importance of a “speedy settlement and emphasized the need of the benefit reaching out to the nominees at the earliest”, said the statement.

Health Ministry officials highlighted the issues being faced while reaching out to the family of the deceased as well as obtaining the legal heir certificates. They also provided an overview of the mechanism being followed with State nodal authorities to expedite the claims.

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