New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) on Monday asked the Andaman and Nicobar administration to submit an action taken report within two weeks on the spread of the COVID-19 infection among members of the dwindling Great Andamanese tribe. According to the archipelago's administration, 10 members of the tribe, which lives on the Strait Island, contracted the deadly virus recently. There are only 59 surviving members of the Great Andamanese tribe.
Citing a newspaper report, the commission said, 'Ten members of the Great Andamanese tribe have tested positive for the coronavirus, which is a matter of concern about the safety of the group and other indigenous people on the remote archipelago.' 'Keeping in view the seriousness of the matter, it is requested that a detailed factual report along with action taken by the administration on the issue be sent to the commission within a period of two weeks,' it said in a communication to the chief secretary of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
After six members of the tribe, who had travelled to Port Blair, the regions' capital, for work, tested positive for the virus, a health team travelled to Strait Island recently to carry out tests of the remaining members.
Out of 37 samples tested, four more from the tribe were found to be positive, according to Health Department Deputy Director and Nodal Officer Avijit Roy.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands' COVID-19 tally stands at 3,104, while 2,586 people have recovered from the disease. The remote archipelago has so far recorded 45 coronavirus deaths. There are six notified Scheduled Tribes in the archipelago -- Nicobarese, Great Andamanese, Jarawa, Sentinelese, Onge and Shompen.
Barring Nicobarese, all are recognized as particularly vulnerable tribal groups, characterized by declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and economic backwardness.
Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda on Saturday had said his ministry was in regular touch with the administration in the archipelago.
“The Andaman & Nicobar Administration is alert to the safety of its tribe, especially the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) through Integrated Tribal development Authority,” he had said.
The archipelago administration in a report informed the ministry that three tribals have recovered and the rest are undergoing treatment at GB Pant Hospital or are in home isolation.
“Most of the tribals, except family members of those tested positive, have been shifted back to Strait Island. All active cases are in good health and under close observation,” it said.
The administration also said that all samples of members of the Onge tribe from Dugong Creek have tested negative.
It has now decided to conduct random testing of the Jarawas.
“The A&N administration reiterates its commitment to protecting PVTGs and their safety is of paramount importance. It will leave no stone unturned to protect this heritage of humanity,” it had said. PTI GVS ANB ANB