Wednesday, 26 January, 2022
HomeIndiaAndaman's Jarawas, Sentinelese face Covid risk as officials monitoring them test positive

Andaman’s Jarawas, Sentinelese face Covid risk as officials monitoring them test positive

Andaman administration to test random samples from the tribes. It is also testing members of the welfare society before allowing them to further interact with the tribes.

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New Delhi: Officials monitoring the welfare and protection of vulnerable tribal groups such as the Jarawa and Sentinelese in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands have tested positive for Covid-19, putting the indigenous folk at risk, ThePrint has learnt.

Functionaries of the Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS), a department under the Union Territory’s administration, have been regularly visiting, patrolling and interacting with the reclusive tribal groups — who are designated as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) by the Indian government — to apprise them of the pandemic situation and advise them to wear masks and gloves, and maintain social distancing.

After the officials tested positive in the last two weeks, the Andaman and Nicobar administration has decided to conduct random testing of the Jarawa tribals, a source in the administration said.

Some samples of the Onge tribe from Dugong Creek, another indigenous tribe on the islands, were also taken, the source said. They have all tested negative.

Over the past month, Covid-positive cases among the Great Andamanese tribe also emerged. Most of the Great Andamanese, however, are in mainstream society, hold government jobs and live in Port Blair. The other tribes that are now under risk have no human contact.

There are six notified scheduled tribes in A&N islands. Except Nicobarese, the rest of the five tribes — Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Sentinelese Onge and Shompen — are recognised as PVTGs.

UT Chief Secretary Chetan Sanghi told ThePrint in a WhatsApp message that “primitive vulnerable tribes are all safe and all precautions are being taken to keep them safe”. However, he did not comment on the AAJVS functionaries testing positive.

He also tweeted:

According to the Union health ministry, 2,985 Covid cases have been reported in the UT as of Thursday. Of these, 635 are currently active while 41 have died from the disease.

Also read: 80% Covid patients in India are asymptomatic, health ministry analysis finds

AAJVS being tested

According to a second source in the UT administration, there have been drives by field staff to sensitise the tribals about the Covid disease and the necessary precautions required to be taken through pictures and videos in their own language.

“The movement of AAJVS and other line departments’ personnel to the tribal settlements is being allowed only after proper Covid testing,” the official said.

“The officials posted at tribal settlements have been advised not to move outside the tribal settlement and interact with the outsiders. Further, all field functionaries are being periodically tested for COVID-19,” he added.

A statement released by the UT administration Thursday said: “The Andaman & Nicobar Administration is alert to the safety of its tribe, especially Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). A number of steps have been taken proactively for the safety and protection of the tribes from mid-March 2020 onwards even before any case of COVID-19 was reported in the islands.”

Also read: Should Sentinelese tribe be isolated for safety or unfair to treat them as museum displays?

Patrolling intensified, tribe asked to stay in small groups

After the pandemic broke, the UT’s administration had shifted the Great Andamanese to the Strait Island and the Jarawa to the West Coast of Jarawa reserve to avoid any contact with outsiders.

The administration has also restricted the number of convoys going to the area to ensure the safety of the Jarawa tribe, the second official said.

“Jarawa have been provided with tools and steel rods etc. for making arrows to keep them engaged. Patrolling on the west coast has been intensified by AAJVS, Police and Forest Departments,” the statement said.

“Fisheries Department has also sensitised fishermen not to interact with Jarawa. Jarawa have been advised to stay in smaller groups to avoid any possible spread in an event of COVID-19 outbreak.

“Intensive monitoring of Jarawa movement in Yeaterji, Bamboof Tikrey, Phooltala, Santipur and Katai Dera is being carried out by AAJVS staff,” the statement added.

Also read: Madhumala Chattopadhyay, the woman who made the Sentinelese put their arrows down


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  1. 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘢 𝘫𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘪𝘵. 𝘐 𝘢𝘮 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘴𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘭𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴 (𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘫𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘸𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺) 𝘰𝘧 𝘈𝘯𝘥𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘯 &𝘕𝘪𝘤𝘰𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘴𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴. 𝘊𝘢𝘯 𝘐 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘯𝘦𝘸𝘴 𝘶𝘱𝘥𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘦𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘱𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘨𝘰𝘨𝘨𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘴𝘈𝘱𝘱?

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