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Coronavirus threatens first residents of India's Andaman Islands

Indigenous groups with 'no concept of social distancing' at risk from outsiders

Girls walk along the shore in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar islands, in September 2007: Advocates for the islands' indigenous people warn they are at risk from the coronavirus.   © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- After 33 coronavirus cases were reported in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a remote crescent of 572 islands in the Bay of Bengal, experts began worrying about the indigenous people who live there.

"Even though all reported cases are among nontribals, our biggest challenge is to protect the aboriginals from COVID-19," said Anup Kumar Mondal, a tribal welfare officer with Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti (AAJVS), a government-run tribal welfare body. "If one person in the tribe gets infected, the entire community will be at risk because there is no concept of social distancing among them."

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