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Australian study reveals support needed for orphans left behind in COVID-19 pandemic

                CANBERRA, Sept. 1 (Xinhua/APP):Australian researchers have found that the data shows that an estimated 1,800 to 1,900 young Australians lost at least one parent during the pandemic.

 In a study published on Thursday, researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) found fertility rates, poverty, vaccine coverage and the incidence of risk factors such as heart disease and diabetes in certain age groups all contributed to a higher risk of children losing at least one parent during the pandemic.

“We think of COVID-19 as a disease that largely affects older people, but we have forgotten about the young people and children that are left behind,” Callum Lowe, a researcher at ANU, said in a media release.

“These are children that may have lost one or, sometimes tragically, both parents. It highlights that COVID-19 isn’t just having an impact now but is having a huge effect on the next generation.”

Using data published in 2021, Lowe and his team estimated Australia’s COVID-19 orphan rate at 0.13, which means for every 100 coronavirus deaths in Australia about 13 young people have lost one or both parents.

Lowe said while there are countries where the orphan rate is much higher than in Australia, the data shows that an estimated 1,800 to 1,900 young Australians lost at least one parent during the pandemic.

The ANU research found some of the countries most affected by the risk of orphaned children were in Africa, particularly which had a higher proportion of people with non-communicative diseases between the ages of 15 and 49.

“The research highlights the need for government resources and policy settings that ensure children affected by the death of one or both parents are properly supported, particularly in vulnerable populations like First Nations and rural communities,” Lowe said.

The study came when COVID-19 infections continued in recent months in Australia.

So far, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic has surpassed 10 million in Australia, the population of which is about 25 million.

Australia on Thursday reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 50 deaths.

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