The novel coronavirus appears to spear none from its fury – at least four-six members of a remote Andamanese tribe has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, health officials said.
Port Blair-based media outlet, the Andaman Chronicles first reported the development on August 21st, stating the biggest fear for the Great Andamanese tribe -one of four major aboriginal communities of the archipelago – has turned into a reality after at least four to six members tested positive.
According to fresher reports, two are admitted to the hospital, while the others have been isolated in quarantine centers at Port Blair.
The Greater Andamanese community is believed to have a population of only 53, who all inhabit one of the 27 populated islands in the archipelago region.
This report comes after the eastern region of the Andamans and Nicobar islands recorded 2,985 Covid-19 cases and 41 deaths since its first infection was detected two months ago.
According to senior health official Dr. Avijit Roy, the first cases of the virus in the Greater Andamanese tribe surfaced after all the 50-plus members of the tribe tested for the virus in Port Blair, BBC reports. The greater Andamanese tribe is on the verge of extinction.
Uncharted travel to and fro the more populous city from their secluded island might have bought the virus to their tribal community, according to the experts.
A linguist who spoke to Down To Earth Magazine said a blame-game is currently ongoing within the administrative bodies entrusted for the welfare of the aboriginal tribes, in the Indian archipelago, world-famous for its tourism.
The Andaman Aadim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS) – the public welfare body designed to look after the tribes were sloppy with their response, experts suggest, whereas prompt action to shield the tribes from the virus was needed.
“There should have been a strict vigil on the movement of the few Great Andamanese tribe who remain and are already on the verge of extinction”, an expert said on condition of anonymity to the Andaman Chronicles.
Tribal communities around the world are vulnerable to contagious diseases much more than the city-dwelling general population, thanks to the extreme lack of basic healthcare.
The primitive, nomadic lifestyle, lack of access to proper sanitation and health care facilities, and isolated nature of their lives bereft them from chances of survival when caught with diseases and other public crises.
Experts are now concerned to protect the other three major tribal groups that inhabit the islands – Onges, Jarawa, and Sentinelese, all of whom collectively make a mere population of 700, according to the World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples.
The pandemic has also threatened other indigenous communities around the world like Amazon indigenous tribes where the virus has threatened to wipe out the population coupled with the raging forest fires in the region in recent times.
“It is extremely alarming that members of the Great Andamanese tribe tested positive for Covid-19,” Sophie Grigg, a senior researcher for London-based Survival International which works for tribal peoples’ rights said.