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Odisha finding difficult to convince tribals to go for COVID-19 test

Representational image   | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

As cases of COVID-19 are rising among the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), the response teams in Odisha have come across a peculiar problem — convincing them to get tested.

A team comprising senior administrative officer and doctors kept chasing Dongria Kondhs, a PVTG, in the Niyamgiri Hill Range all through the day on Monday, but none from the tribes was ready to undergo test.

Officials fear the delay in screening the community would make matters worse. At Pakeri village under Kalyansinghpur block of Rayagada district, 13 of the 16 persons had tested positive in rapid antigen tests. As of now, 23 Dongria Kondhs are found to be infected.

“None from the Dongria Kondh tribe was ready to get tested. They argued that since they worship Niyamraja, the supreme god of the Niyamgiri jungle, coronavirus cannot touch them,” said Kelu Charan Naik, Kalyansinghpur BDO.

Mr. Naik, who had to trek the Niyamgiri Hill chasing tribals, said none of the infected persons was even ready to isolate in the temporary medical centre set up by the government. “If such reluctance prevails in the community, possibility of further spread of infection cannot be ruled out,” he said.

The Malkangiri district administration continued its contact tracing at the Bonda Hill where tribals wore the mask for the first time. Twelve Bonda tribe men had tested positive on Sunday.

According to reports from Mayurbhanj district, 16 members from the Hill Kharia, another PVTG, have tested positive.

It is apprehended that the PVTGs could have come in contact with infected persons in weekly market. There is possibility of persons who returned to community from other States spreading the infection.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 6:21:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/odisha-finding-difficult-to-convince-tribals-to-go-for-covid-19-test/article34582747.ece

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