Covid-19 Spreads Among Two Secluded Tribes in Odisha

As the second wave of Covid-19 wreaks havoc across urban and rural areas of the country, the tribal population of Odisha has a cause for concern. Covid-19 infections have started multiplying among the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) including the Bonda and Dongria Kondh tribes. As per the officials, 35 cases have been reported in the last two weeks within people belonging to these two secluded tribes.

Reports suggest 12 members of the Bonda tribe, who live in Malkangiri, and 23 members of the Dongria Kondh tribe, settled in the Niyamgiri hills have tested positive.

“We have tested 61 Bonda tribals and found 12 positive. Four persons have recovered and the remaining are in home isolation. The health conditions of the affected persons are being closely monitored by our rapid response team (RRT) and required medicines are being given. We are taking all precautionary measures to ensure that the virus does not spread any further,” said Prafulla Nanda, chief district medical officer in Malkangiri.

Meanwhile, out of the 23 members of the Dongria Kondh tribe who tested positive for Covid-19, at least four have recovered. The rest of them are under home isolation as per Kalyansinghpur block development officer Kalucharan Nayak.

Notably, Bondas are detached from the outside world and live in the highlands of Malkangiri, located 3,500-feet above sea level. There are about 6,000 Bondas in Odisha.

Similarly, the 10,000-odd Dongria Kondhs live in the villages of the Niyamgiri mountain plateau located on the Rayagada-Kalahandi border. The tribe sustains themselves from the resources of the Niyamgiri forests, practising horticulture and shifting cultivation.

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