Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday asked the Women and Child Development Department to frame a policy to provide assistance to the children orphaned due to COVID-19.

As many as 2,290 children in the state have lost either one or both parents to the pandemic so far, as per official sources.A policy should be framed to look after the needs of such children, Thackeray said at a meeting to discuss the programs and policies of the Women and Child Development Department, an official statement said.

The government will discuss how further relief can be provided to these children, he added.

The Pediatric Task Force on COVID-19 set up by the government and the Women and Child Development Ministry should work in co-ordination to safeguard children in the state from coronavirus infection, the chief minister said.

The task force, headed by Dr Suhas Prabhu, was set up after experts warned that children may be infected in greater numbers in the possible third wave of the pandemic.

ASHA workers and rural healthcare staff should be ''strengthened and empowered'', the chief minister said.

Women and Child Development Minister Yashomati Thakur said a policy was also required for the orphans in the 18-23 age group who have to leave orphanages or child shelter homes after turning 18.

They should be helped to become self-sufficient by offering them skill developmentcourses, the minister said.