Bhubaneswar: Though the Odisha government accorded state funeral to COVID warriors who died during novel coronavirus-related duties, and announced ex-gratia for the bereaved families, a teachers’ association has said that the government is yet to provide financial assistance to the families of teachers, who died during the course of their work.
Almost 40 per cent of COVID warriors were school teachers who died while performing novel coronavirus-related duties in COVID care centres, COVID care homes, and temporary medical camps (TMC) housed in local schools, Odisha Secondary School Teacher Association (OSSTA) secretary Prakash Mohanty said.
The state government had in April announced an ex-gratia of Rs 50 lakh for families of all frontline workers –doctors and other health care professionals — who die of the virus while deployed for COVID-19 duties.
Of the 27 frontline workers who succumbed to the viral infection while on duty, 11 were school teachers in Ganjam district, the state’s coronavirus hotspot.
“We have met senior government officers several times and demanded adequate compensation for the families of the teachers as given to health workers and others. But the government is yet to make any announcement in this regard,” Mohanty told PTI.
The teachers, posted as in-charge of temporary medical centres, mostly got infected while dealing with migrant workers who had returned from across the country, he said.
“Even now many teachers are engaged in COVID-19 management. They were not trained before deployment in COVID care facilities,” Mohanty said.
The teachers are also working in containment zones to collect data and swab samples.
Asked about the reason behind the high fatality rate among teachers, Mohanty said, “health workers have experience in handling a medical crisis, but not teachers. The teachers should be given a training on basic techniques to deal with a pandemic”.
“We have not received any financial assistance from the state government. We have not even got the salary of my husband for the last two months,” said Bharati Sethi, wife of KC Sethi, a teacher who died of COVID-19 while on duty in Ganjam district.
Mamata Sahu, the wife of another teacher said who died during the course of work said, “The government should provide a job to a family member as my husband was the sole breadwinner.”
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had asked the authorities to clear all dues of COVID warriors in time.
“However, nobody pays attention to the affected teachers’ families”, Mohanty alleged.
To fight against novel coronavirus, over 2 lakh corona warriors have been engaged across the state till date, sources said.
Not only health workers but also teachers, police, accredited social health activists (ASHA), Anganwadi workers, women self-help groups (WSHG), panchayat raj institution (PRI) personnel and others have been deployed to work among the infected persons, they said.