COVID-19 strikes ten of the 50 surviving members of the Great Andamanese tribe

COVID-19 strikes ten of the 50 surviving members of the Great Andamanese tribe
The Andaman and Nicobar IslandsWikimedia Commons
  • Over ten members of the tribe have tested positive for coronavirus and have been moved to the hospital.
  • The news of the virus reaching the Great Andamanese tribe has raised concerns around the Jarawa and Sentinelese people – some of the most isolated tribes in the world.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar islands have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with over 2000 cases and 42 reported deaths.
The Great Andamanese tribe has lived through centuries in the archipelago of Andaman. They have seen their numbers dwindle as they faced the British, diseases, and the growing threat from the development around them. And now another test awaits the final 50 odd members of the tribe – the COVID-19 pandemic has reached their lands.

Over ten members of the tribe have tested positive for coronavirus and have been moved to the hospital.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands have been fighting the coronavirus pandemic with over 2000 cases, and 42 deaths were reported. The islands have been implementing weekend lockdowns and partial lockdowns during the week to control the virus in the union territory, which has a population of just 4 lakh.

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Growing calls for ‘Save the tribe’

The news of the virus reaching the Great Andamanese tribe has also raised concerns regarding the Jarawa and Sentinelese people – some of the most isolated tribes in the world.

While experts say that some of them could have contracted the virus during their visits to the main island, this has sparked fears over the survival of Andaman’s oldest tribes now.

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"The Andaman authorities must act urgently to prevent the virus reaching more Great Andamanese and to prevent infection in the other tribes," said Sophie Grig, a senior researcher with the London-based Survival.

The tribe is known to be overprotective of their territories, warding off foreigners who visit their island. In 2018, the Sentinelese tribe had made news as a 26-year old missionary was allegedly killed by the people on his visit to the sentinel island.

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