Many tribal habitations are located in interior areas devoid of road connectivity
Even as coronavirus is spreading its tentacles in the Bhadrachalam Agency predominantly inhabited by Adivasis, the demand for enhanced COVID-19 surveillance in the border mandals is fast gaining momentum.
Bhadrachalam Agency, which shares inter-State borders with both Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, by and large remained unaffected by the deadly virus during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic last year.
However, the border mandals, mainly Charla and Dummugudem, have been witnessing a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past few days.
39 positive cases
Of the total 89 COVID-19 tests conducted in Charla on Thursday, as many as 39 were positive, sources said.
The spurt in COVID-19 cases in the Agency mandals can be gauged from the fact that nearly 118 beds of the total 125 oxygen supported beds earmarked for the COVID-19 patients in the Government Area Hospital in Bhadrachalam town are filled.
The hitherto unaffected tribal areas located in far flung areas in the district are also staring at the second wave of the pandemic.
Sources said that a COVID-19 case was reported from a remote tribal habitation inhabited by Konda Reddi Adivasis at Pusukunta in Dammapeta mandal last week.
With many tribal habitations located in interior areas devoid of road connectivity, the task of conducting household fever surveys has become a big challenge for the field-level health functionaries.
Sources in the Health Department said that a little over 2.46 lakh households in the Gram Panchayats (GPs) across the district, including in Agency mandals, were surveyed as part of the ongoing fever survey by as many as 700 teams so far.
A total of 10,375 home kits containing medicines were given to persons identified with fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 in these GPs.
As many as 156 teams conducted fever surveys in a total of 56,181 households in the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the district till date. Around 2,501 persons with fever and other symptoms of COVID-19 were given home isolation kits in the ULBs, sources added.
"There is an imperative need to create greater awareness about the COVID-19 preventive measures among Adivasis living in interior tribal pockets close to the inter-State borders in Bhadrachalam Agency," insists Konda Reddi Adivasi Sangham founder Murla Ramesh.
The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Bhadrachalam, should play a proactive role in reaching out to Adivasis inhabiting the border villages to ward off COVID-19 threat, he suggests.
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