Virus breaches another wall, four Bondas test positive

Pandemic reaches the tribal community in Malkangiri

Published - August 24, 2020 11:00 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Virus spread:  Bondas live in settlements in the hills of Khairaput block of Malkangiri.

Virus spread: Bondas live in settlements in the hills of Khairaput block of Malkangiri.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached the Bondas, a tribal community residing in the hill ranges of Malkangiri district in Odisha. Four members of the community have tested positive for COVID-19. They have been isolated from the rest of the community members.

Bondas, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), live in settlements comprising small hutments in the hills of the Khairaput block. Their population is around 7,000.

“Three persons from the Bonda community from Mudulipada village and one from Bandhaguda village have tested positive. They have been sent to COVID-19 hospital. We have already declared villages as containment zones. Movements to Bonda hamlets have been restricted. We will send ambulance to carry out COVID-19 tests,” Hrudaya Ranjan Sahoo, Khairaput Block Development Officer, told The Hindu .

As of now, 41 people in the block (not all Bondas), where a small concentration of the Bonda population is found, have tested positive. While 24 COVID-19 patients have recovered, active cases stand at 17.

Odisha is home to 62 tribal communities — the largest diverse groups of tribal population in India. Thirteen of them are PVTGs. Tribal populations are found in the entire seven districts of Kandhamal, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkanagiri and Rayagada, and in parts of six other districts. There are around 20 blocks where 13 PVTGs have sizeable populations. None of the blocks have been spared by the pandemic.

Bissamcuttack and Kalyansinghpur blocks of the Rayagada district, having the Dongria Kandh tribal population, have so far reported 64 and 40 positive cases respectively. Similarly, 171 persons have been found infected in Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district, where the Dongrias live. Cases were also detected in Lahunipada (Sundargarh), Barkot (Deogarh) and Pallahara (Angul) blocks, where Paudi Bhuyans live. Patrapur block, where the population of Sauras population is scattered, has reported 551 COVID-19 cases. Gajapati’s Guma block, which is home to the Lanjiasaura community, had 295 persons infected by the COVID-19.

The government has translated COVID-19 awareness leaflets in 10 tribal languages to ensure that they are effectively utilised in the villages.

Meanwhile, Odisha on Monday reported 2,949 cases. With this, the State’s tally jumped to 81,479.

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