Malkangiri: After remaining untouched for long, the primitive tribal groups of Odisha in remote habitations have reported Covid-19 positive cases recently, triggering concerns over the infection spreading to other such tribal population in the State.
According to reports, while at least 12 people from Bonda tribe in Odisha's Malkangiri district have tested positive, as many as 20 cases of coronavirous infection have been reported among the Dongria Kondh tribe, settled in the Niyamgiri hills of Rayagada district.
The vulnerable tribal groups had remained untouched during the first wave. Given their poor immunity due to lack of nourishment and secluded way of life, officials are worried about the impact of the current virulent Covid-19 wave on them. The lack of awareness among the tribes could also act as a major impediment in curbing the pandemic in the area.
The infected persons diagnosed in Bonda Ghat area include eight from Mudulipada and four from Andrabahal Panchayat.
“As the Bondas sometimes visit urban market places, we think they have caught the infection there. The migrants from outside the State could have also acted as super spreaders. We have now started a campaign in the 32 remote hilltop villages in the Eastern Ghats of Malkangiri villages to ensure that the pandemic does not spread further,” said Khairaput medical officer Debabrata Barik.
Malakangiri district administration has announced the infected areas as Containment Zones and conducted a mass testing drive.
“The infected persons have been isolated and they are getting treatment in quarantine. We are also emphasising on contact tracing and isolating those who have come in contact with the infected persons,” said Sarapanch Sandharani Nayak.
Meanwhile, Rayagada district administration has initiated a door-to-door survey in Niyamgiri villages specifically falling under the Kalyansinghpur block following reports of 20 people getting infected in the area.
“People who have been in close contact with infected persons have been quarantined and are under observation by a medical team. With members of the tribe largely confined to their villages, officials are trying to track the source of the infection,” said Kalyansinghpur BDO Kalu Charan Nayak.
With the second wave of Covid-19 being reported among the vulnerable tribal groups, former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das has expressed concerns over the infection spreading to other such tribals in the State.
Das has requested Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take immediate steps to protect the primitive tribes from the pandemic.
Meanwhile in a high-level review meeting, PM Narendra Modi has emphasised that healthcare resources should be utilised to focus on door to door testing in rural and tribal inhabitaed areas. He has also directed the health department to augment health care capacities in the rural areas.