Five members of the Great Andamanese tribe, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal group (PVTG), have tested positive for COVID-19. The Great Andamanese are one of five PVTGs that reside in the Andamans archipelago and this is one of the first cases of COVID-19 infection among the endangered PVTGs of the region.
“We have shifted all five to an isolation facility in Port Blair. Of these five persons, four are male and one female. They are all cooperating with us and are not showing any serious health complications,” nodal officer for COVID-19 and Deputy Director (Health), Directorate of Health Services, Port Blair Avijit Roy told The Hindu on Thursday.
Dr. Roy said the infections were detected when the administration tested all members of the tribe last week. On the question of how the members of the tribe had contracted the infection, the health official said that some members travel between Port Blair and Strait Island and a few do odd jobs in the city.
The Great Andamanese, who number just 74, speak Jeru among themselves. The five PVTGS residing in Andamans are Great Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Shompens and North Sentinelese.
Meanwhile, the administration has also tested 35 members of the Onge tribe, who reside primarily on the Dugong Creek of the Little Andaman Island. “All the test reports are negative,” Dr. Roy said.
Emphasising that the administration was taking all efforts to contain the spread of the virus among the PVTGs, he said the administration had shifted the Jarawas to the the west coast of the Jarawa Tribal Reserve. The testing of the Jarawas will start on Friday, he said.
The Shompen and North Sentinelese, who live in isolation, are difficult to reach out to and contact.
As per the health bulletin issued by Andaman and Nicobar Island, the total confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Islands as on August 26 was 3,000 and the number of deaths due to the viral infection was 42.