Updated: May 15, 2021 7:55:01 am
The first cases of coronavirous infection have been reported among the Dongria Kondh tribe, settled in the Niyamgiri hills of Rayagada district in Odisha, sparking concern among officials.
One of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups in India, the Dongria Kondhs had remained untouched during the first wave. Given their poor immunity due to lack of nourishment and a secluded way of life, officials are worried about the impact of the current virulent Covid-19 wave on them.
The administration had initiated a door-to-door survey in villages specifically falling under the Kalyansinghpur block following reports of tribe members showing members. District Collector Saroj Kumar Mishra said, “They showed mild symptoms during the weekend door-to-door surveys being conducted by our field staff. Their reports came positive on Thursday.” The four are stable and are under isolation, officials said.
People who have been in close contact with the four persons have been quarantined and are under observation. The nearest Covid hospital to Niyamgiri is 45 km away.
With members of the tribe largely confined to their villages, officials are trying to track the source of the infection. Rayagada shares a border with Andhra Pradesh, and the Odisha government had earlier sealed it to contain the virus spread.
A total of 2,461 Dongria Kondh families, comprising 9,597 people, are estimated to live in 102 villages situated in the Niyamgiri hills, spread across Bissamkatak, Kalyansinghpur and Muniguda blocks of Rayagada district.
“Most likely the tribe members were infected due to visiting markets in nearby villages. We are trying to ensure that the disease does not spread to other villages of the community,” the District Collector said.
The administration has also stepped up awareness programmes. “We have been telling villagers to reach out to us in case of any symptoms. We are conducting meetings in Kui language, which the tribals speak,” said Sudarshan Padhi, project manager, Dongria Kondh Development Agency, Chatikona.
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