A team of healthcare workers traveled to the small island last week for testing after six members of the tribe, who had traveled to the region’s capital, Port Blair, for work, had tested positive for the virus on the mainland.
The samples showed that four other members of the tribe who had never left the island were also infected with the virus.
Dr Avijit Roy, senior regional health director, said the virus had reached the island even though Covid tests were done on every person traveling to any of the 38 inhabited islands.
“Over the past few months, everyone who has been to these islands, especially the restricted travel areas, has been tested, but it seems that a person with the virus is not being detected,” he said. -he declares.
India reported a record-breaking daily tally of 75,760 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing its total to 3.1 million. There were 1,023 deaths recorded in the same 24-hour period, bringing the country’s toll to 60,472.
While the virus was initially concentrated in densely populated cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, it has now spread to rural and isolated communities with limited health resources. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which have a population of 400,000, have reported a total of 2,944 cases of the coronavirus among the non-tribal population.
The four island tribe members who tested positive were between the ages of 26 and 55 and were all taken to hospital as a precaution, though Roy said none had severe symptoms. The six people who initially tested positive for the virus in Port Blair are in home observation quarantine.
Roy was confident that with continued testing and further restrictions on movement, the Great Andamanians would remain safe. “All possible transmission routes are monitored,” he said. “No one is allowed on the island until they have tested negative, and at this time we have ruled out the possibility of new cases.”
Arjun Munda, the union minister for tribal affairs, expressed concern over major Andaman infections and said the government was taking “every precaution” to ensure their safety.
The Great Andamanians are one of five tribes living on the Andaman Islands who fear they are highly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.
In 1788, when the British first attempted unsuccessfully to invade the islands, the Great Andamanese numbered between 5,000 and 8,000, and consisted of 10 different tribes.
Today, just over 50 people remain, and members of only two of the 10 tribes have survived. Their language has been largely lost – in April of this year, the last speaker of the Sare Great Andamanese language died from multiple health issues – and the tribe now speaks mostly Hindi.
The native Andaman population has been declining for decades as it has low immunity to many diseases and has been particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis and alcoholism.
There are only about 200 surviving members of the Shompen tribe, 150 of the Sentinel tribe, 100 of the Onge and about 400 of the nomadic Jarawa tribe, who are believed to have penetrated deep into the jungle since the outbreak of the pandemic to attempt to protect himself.
The Sentinel tribe, which is hostile to foreigners and made headlines in 2018 by slaughtering American missionary John Allen Chau, with bows and arrows after his trip to their island, are unlikely to know of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is extremely alarming that members of the great Andamanese tribe have tested positive for Covid-19,” said Sophie Grig, senior researcher at Survival International, an organization representing tribal people around the world. “They will only be too aware of the devastating impact of the epidemics that have decimated their populations.”