Tribal areas in Chhattisgarh and Odisha have less Covid-19 cases. Officials explain...

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Home / India News / Tribal areas in Chhattisgarh and Odisha have less Covid-19 cases. Officials explain why

It has been three months since any Covid-19 case has been found in Maoist-affected districts of Sukma, Bijapur and Naryanpur. The probable reason is low number of testing for the disease.

However, in neighbouring Odisha, the coronavirus disease cases in tribal districts are that of the migrant workers, who returned from different parts of the country. “None of the local tribal have got Covid,” an Odisha health department official said, admitting that testing in tribal dominated districts was much less than in non-tribal areas.

Thirty one per cent of Chhattisgarh’s total population is tribal. As per the Chhattisgarh health department figures, most of the Covid-19 cases were detected in the northern part of the state - Korba , Bilaspur, Baloda Bazar, Raipur and Mungeli districts - while no case was found in the tribal dominated southern districts of the state.

The department’s data, however, revealed that the tests conducted in the southern districts were much less than in the northern non-tribal dominated districts. Till now, only 1,158 persons have been tested for the coronavirus disease in Bijapur, 777 in Naryanpur and 1,749 in Sukma. On the other hand, maximum cases were found in the Korba district, where 9,139 people were tested of which 254 were found positive. Similarly, in Bilaspur, 9,378 persons were tested of which 167 were positive, while in Raipur maximum 11,993 tests were conducted and 151 were found positive.

“Most cases detected are from the migrant community. The parts which have seen large influx of inter-state travellers have shown spike in the cases. In Chhattisgarh, people who came from western part and Uttar Pradesh have particularly been Covid-19 carriers. The southern (tribal dominated) districts so far do not have many such people with travel history and therefore, the cases are less,” said health secretary Niharika Barik Singh.

She said lesser number of tests was done in southern districts because fewer people came under the criterion of Covid-19 testing, which allows testing of only those who show symptoms of the disease. “We have followed ICMR guidelines for testing,” she said.

Till Thursday, the total active cases in the state were 735 out of total 1,946 cases. The state has reported nine deaths, all from the northern districts, a health official said.

“Most of the migrant workers in the northern region went to coronavirus affected areas in Maharashtra, Delhi, UP etc for work and could not come back because the lockdown was announced on March 24. And by the time Shramik Express trains started (on May 1), these workers from our state were infected,” said Health Minister TS Singhdeo.

In Odisha, tribals constitute about 22 per cent of the population. The tribal-dominated districts in southern as well as northern Odisha have reported lesser Covid-19 cases compared to non-tribal districts. Cases have been reported in all the 30 districts with Ganjam leading the tally. So far, more than 4,677 cases have been reported in Odisha, according to state health department officials.

In tribal-dominated Koraput and Nabarangpur districts, all the Covid-19 positive cases were from migrant workers who checked into quarantine centres, healthcare workers and paramilitary jawans. In Nabarangpur district, seven personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF), who had travelled to Maharashtra, were found positive. In Koraput too, all the 24 cases detected were either from quarantine centres or people with travel history to other states.

“Among the infected people in district, there are tribals with travel history to other states. But there has been no cases of local transmission or community transmission in our tribal pockets,” said Koraput district collector Madhusudan Mishra.

In comparison, tribal-dominated Bolangir district reported 150 cases followed by Sundargarh, another tribal district with 146 cases. Similarly, tribal dominated district of Mayurbhanj reported 129 cases.

“All the cases were here were from inter-state migrant workers and some healthworkers and doctors who came in contact with the Covid patients or migrant workers. There is no case of local transmission in Odisha,” said an Odisha health department official. He admitted that testing in the tribal dominated districts were less than in non-tribal dominated districts, which sees higher outflow of persons for employment to other states.

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