Oct 5, 2021 - World

India's top court orders government to pay families for COVID deaths

A health care worker administering a coronavirus test in Noida, India, on Oct. 4.

A health care worker administering a coronavirus test in Noida, India, on Oct. 4. Photo: Sunil Ghosh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India's Supreme Court ordered the country's disaster management agency to pay 50,000 rupees, around $671, to families for each COVID-19 death they suffered as a way to help them cope with the loss, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: More than 449,000 people have died from the virus in India, meaning the total payout could be more than $300 million. However, many experts have warned that the country's death toll may have been undercounted.

  • The death toll could also increase after the government expanded its definition of a coronavirus death to anyone who died within 30 days of a positive RT-PCR test or clinical examination confirming an infection, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: "All concerned authority shall act as a helping hand, so as to wipe off the tears of those who have suffered due to loss of a family member due to Covid-19," the Supreme Court said in its order, according to Reuters.

The big picture: India’s National Disaster Management Act grants families a payment of 400,000 rupees (about $5,400) for every relative they lose in typhoons, floods and other disasters, according to the Times.

  • In response to coronavirus deaths, the government offered to give families the minimum payable amount, which the court accepted.

Go deeper: India's true death toll during pandemic likely higher than 3 million

Go deeper