Jodatarai village in Geedam block, 19-odd km from the district headquarters, has been declared a containment zone, with the residents themselves sealing it off. District health officials and community health workers (mitanins) are carrying out door-to-door checks to see if others in the village, too, have been infected.
According to district officials, the village residents, violating Covid-19 norms, gathered last week for the funeral of a village elder. “There are several rituals that are followed and for that the entire village had gathered,” one of the residents said, requesting anonymity. He added: “After people started developing fever, we sealed the entry to the village from all sides. We only allowed government vehicles.”
After the funeral, a couple of villagers started showing symptoms of Covid-19 like fever and the common cold. “When the cases started trickling into the community health centres, the mitanins and village representatives contacted health officials at the district headquarters. On Thursday, a team from Dantewada went to the village to monitor the situation,” a district official said.
Of the 40 who have tested positive, 14 have been hospitalised at the covid treatment centre in Javanga, officials said. “They are not critical, but were showing severe symptoms and thus have been admitted. We are monitoring the situation,” the official said.
He added: “Villagers are not hiding their symptoms and are cooperating with the mitanins and other representatives, which is making our work slightly easier. We are trying to contain the spread of the infection within the village or else it would be difficult to contain and monitor the situation.”
Dantewada district has seen more than 8,000 positive cases since March 2020. It currently has 543 active cases.
Officials, however, are facing difficulties in the hinterlands of the neighbouring Sukma district, which has 245 active cases. While infections are not widespread yet, some village residents, especially migrant workers, have tested positive, officials said.
On Friday, a team of district health officials who had gone to fetch Covid-19 patients were chased out of two villages by tribals, forcing the administration to take a team of police along with them the second time.
“In Kakadiama village of Burdi panchayat and Samasatti village of Kerlapal, both 12 km from the district headquarters, ground level workers informed us about possible Covid-19 patients. When our teams went to retrieve them, the villagers chased the team away, until the senior officials and a team of police went to the village,” a senior district official said.
He added: “Villagers are afraid and have a distrust with the officials, as there is a lot of misinformation on Covid-19. We are working on increasing awareness in these areas.”