Great Andamanese tribe hit by Covid-19
Ten members of India’s dwindling Great Andamanese tribe have tested positive for coronavirus, officials said Thursday, fuelling concerns about the safety of the group and other indigenous people in the remote archipelago.
Six of the 10 have recovered and are in home quarantine, officials told AFP, while the rest are undergoing treatment at a local hospital. The tribe consists of just over 50 people, who live on the tiny Strait Island.
A team of health officials were sent to Strait Island on Sunday after six members of the tribe tested positive in the archipelago’s capital, Port Blair, recently.
Some of the tribe’s members regularly travel to Port Blair, where they have government jobs. “The team tested 37 samples and four members of the Great Andamanese tribe were found to be positive. They are admitted to a hospital,” Avijit Ray, a senior health officer in-charge of disease management told AFP.
Sanjiv Mittal, a senior government officer for tribal welfare, told AFP that authorities were doing their best to keep all the members safe and healthy.
In recent days, concerns have grown for the safety of the Great Andamanese and other tribes, including the remote Jarawa and the Sentinelese people.
Outsiders are banned from visiting the island, to protect the Sentinelese way of life and avoid exposing them to infectious diseases. As one of the most isolated tribes in the world, the Sentinelese are extremely vulnerable to diseases from outsiders, especially during a global pandemic such as the coronavirus, experts say.