At least five members of the Great Andamanese tribe in Andaman Islands (India) are reported to have tested positive for Covid-19 and two have been admitted to the hospital, claimed Survival International (SI), a London based global body fighting for tribal people’s rights and their dignified survival around the world.
It also added that Great Andamanese are a small group of just over 50 survivors, down from more than 5000 when the British colonized the islands in the 1850s. They suffer from the long term impacts of diseases introduced by the brutal occupation, where tuberculosis and alcoholism are widespread, making them vulnerable to Covid-19 complications.
Mentionable is that Andaman Islands in the Indian ocean, which is adjacent to Myanmar, have a total population of around 4,00,000, where over 3000 people tested positive for the novel corona virus infection. At least 37 individuals have lost their lives because of the pandemic there. India as a nation lost 59,449 people to Covid-19 complications and reported over 3.23 million cases till date.
Now concerns are also growing for the safety of other tribes in the islands, including the Jarawa and un-contacted Sentinelese. Earlier this month it was reported that five welfare staff working with the Jarawa tribe tested positive for Covid-19, stated the SI statement adding that the Jarawa people continues to be at risk from welfare staff who have been insufficiently quarantined and also the poachers.
The Sentinelese, as the most isolated tribe in the world, are extremely vulnerable to diseases from outsiders, but during a global pandemic the risk of devastating infection is even greater. Without proper patrolling of the waters around their island they are at risk of coming into contact with poachers illegally fishing and diving for lobster, the forum asserted.
“It is extremely alarming that members of the Great Andamanese tribe tested positive for Covid-19. They will be all too aware of the devastating impact of epidemics that have decimated their people. The Andaman authorities must act urgently to prevent the virus reaching more Great Andamanese and to prevent infection in the other tribes,” commented SI senior researcher Sophie Grig.
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