RAIPUR: Maoists are not the only problem in Bastar these days. Covid-19 is wreaking havoc, among insurgents and innocents alike. The tribal heartland is reporting an alarming spike in Covid infections, with the Maoist hotbeds of Sukma and Bijapur topping the charts.
To make it worse, vaccination isn’t able to keep pace with the speed of the virus. While the Maoist insurgency and remoteness of large parts of Bastar are hurdles in the vaccination drive, shortage of vaccines is a concern, say officials. On Sunday, 70 (or 37%) ofChhattisgarh
’s 188 new cases were from South Bastar. The Centre has sent a team from AIIMSRaipur
to probe the surge and find ways to tackle it.
Nearly 40% of Chhattisgarh’s active cases are now in the seven districts of Bastar division. Bijapur leads the table with 554 cases, followed by Sukma (506), Bastar (249), Dantewada (245), Kankeer (140), Kondagaon (104) and Narayanpur (60).
Since the outbreak, 668 people have died of Covid in Bastar region, say health officials. Majority of the Bastar deaths have come in the past few months. Maoists have been hit hard as well. Central committee member Haribhushan and his wife are among several insurgent leaders who have died of Covid, say police.
In vaccination, the tribal heartland has a lot of catching up to do. A little over 1.7 lakh – or 18.4% — of the 23.4 lakh eligible population in Bastar division is fully vaccinated. About 7.6 lakh have taken their first doses, which indicates the pace has been picking up of late.
Asked why there is a surge in Covid cases in Bastar, the division’s joint health director Dr Anandram Gota said, “Covid cases began rising after the Silger movement in Sukma on May 15, in which thousands of villagers held protests against the killing of three tribal men in a clash with security personnel.”