Baripada: As Odisha continues to fight the second wave of Coronavirus pandemic, protecting the tribals in the interior areas of the State from infection pose a tricky challenge for the local administration.
As per reports, Coronavirus has already reached the Dongoria Kondh tribal pockets in Niyamgiri, the Khadias in Similipal and Bondas in Malkangiri. And their reported non-cooperation with the district health officials in testing and tracing has put the local administration in a fix. It has triggered 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. Similarly, 16 Khadias from Lalpani area in Similipal have been infected with the virus.
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 wave of the pandemic on them. The lack of awareness among the tribes is acting as a major impediment in curbing the pandemic in these areas.
In such an instance, members of Dongria Kondh living in Niyamgiri hills on Monday refused to undergo Covid-19 test. The Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) expressed open reluctance to the diagnosis at a medical camp which was set up following reports that several members were afflicted with coronavirus.
The tribal community was supposed to undergo Covid test at a camp set up at Parsali on the foot of Niyamgiri hills. Even after the health department team reached the spot to carry out Covid test, the tribal community did not cooperate with them, sources said.
“Even after convincing them, many are not willing to undergo Covid-19 tests. We have spoken to the head of the community and another round of discussion will be held for the testing. We will visit tomorrow again for sample collection,” said Kalyansinghpur BDO Kalucharan Nayak.
Meanwhile, the infected persons diagnosed in Bonda Ghat area include eight from Mudulipada and four from Andrabahal Panchayat.
However lack of awareness among the tribes has posed as a major challenge in keeping the pandemic in check in the 32 remote hilltop villages in the Eastern Ghats of Malkangiri.
“We are trying to spread awareness among the Bonda tribes about the pandemic. However, their reluctance to cooperate with the administration has become a headache for us. Hopefully, they will obey the norms gradually,” said Health Department Director Niranjan Mishra.
Mayurbhanj district administration has initiated a door-to-door survey in Khadia inhabited villages in Similipal. A quick response team of doctors has started an awareness campaign in the area. Lulunga, Kakarpani, Kochilaghati, Tarajodi and Gadipokhari villages are mainly in focus as most of the infected persons have been identified from these areas.
“Lack of awareness among the tribes is a major threat for the spread of the pandemic in these areas. We have launched an awareness campaign and emphasising upon testing and tracking. Hopefully things will be in control soon,” said head of the quick response team, Uttam Kumar Das.