COVID-19 hit the secluded ethnic tribes in the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Ten members from the declining Great Andamanese tribe tested positive late August, notified the government authorities.
The tribe only has a population of 53 people living in Strait Island. Though largely sequestered, some of the tribe members frequent visits to Port Blair for their government work. Of the ten tested positive, six members travel for their job and the remaining four (between the ages of 26 to 55) were dormant natives of the Strait Island tested by a health team sent by the authorities. The native patients, who were mostly asymptomatic or showed mild symptoms, were hospitalized immediately as a precautionary method.
“The team tested 37 samples and four members of the Great Andamanese tribe were found to be positive. They are admitted to a hospital,” said senior health officer-in-charge of disease management, Avijit Ray. Officials said extreme precautions are being taken to protect and safeguard the vulnerable tribe.
After the proper treatment, isolation, and the second round of tests, all ten infected patients have recovered, according to the Andaman and Nicobar Island administration who expressed their joy over their healthy recovery.
Located in the Bay of Bengal (southern coast of India), Andaman Island is home to around 400,000 people with 527 islands. The archipelago consists of five indigenous tribes – Onges – with a population of around 100, Jarawa with over 400 people, Sentinelese – estimated to be 150), and Shompens – ranging around 200 members.
The Great Andamanese is part of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) colonized by the Britishers in the 1850s. The then population of 5000 was decimated due to diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, flu, and others. With their existing problems like tuberculosis and alcoholism, the indigenous tribe is fast depleting.
As of September 11th, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have reported 3,426 cases with a death toll of 51.
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