The novel Coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, has expanded to touch nearly every corner of the world. From metro cities to the rural areas, nothing was spared from the wrath of it. Even the indigenous communities couldn’t save themselves from this pandemic. Yes, we are talking about the indigenous people of the biggest rainforest Amazon. How people of Amazon, living far away from the modern world dealing with this pandemic? How Coronavirus generated from this advanced world is affecting the Amazon guardian?
After the outbreak of Coronavirus, the first confirmed case among Brazil's indigenous communities was confirmed in early April. 20 year-old, social worker from the Kokama tribe was declared as the first corona infected lady by the Health Ministry’s indigenous health service. Infected De Silva Pereira was a health worker.
Till now, there have been 15,500 cases of Coronavirus infected in Brazil’s indigenous communities. At least 523 people have died. But, because of staying far away from the modern world and extremist Brazil government, people doubt the situation to be worse than this. Could be a Catastrophe.
After the outbreak of Coronavirus, health experts fear it to be a great danger for the indigenous communities. As the indigenous people, usually don’t have the immunity to deal with new diseases, they are always in high risk. Among 440 indigenous communities of Amazon, some tribes can face extinction.
Diseases brought by white people have been a reason for the misfortune of these indigenous people since 15th century. After the descending of Christopher Columbus, European citizens have brought several diseases because of which about 90 percent of indigenous communities have faced extinction.
The indigenous people of Amazon have also faced this inversion. From 50’s, the outsider started to enter Amazon, government also started to take several scheme. In early 70’s, a highway was made by the Brazil government which went through the residential area of Panora tribe. The number of people of Panora tribe descended to 83 from 400, after interaction with the outsiders.
Panora tribe leader Aka can still remember that incident, he said -
“An old lady expired at first. Then, gradually people started having fever, sore throat; chest pain. Many people started having breathing difficulties. At first, we could bury the dead bodies but eventually the number of death became really high that we were also exhausted. That’s why, later we couldn’t bury others.”
Aka was a adolescent then, now he is the leader of Panora tribe. Coronavirus is bringing stress and misfortune again to them. Aka asked, why white people always do this, to us? I am very much concerned about my people. This disease can end my tribe completely.
Double the mortality rate
Covid 19 is a great threat to the indigenous people - it can be understood from the statistics. Articulation of Indigenous People of Brazil (AIPB) says that the rate of death in Coronavirus is twice for the indigenous people of Brazil compared to the other civilians of Brazil. We know that, Brazil is in the second position after The United States, in the death toll. Compared to the infected, death rate is 5.2% for normal Brazilians, where for indigenous people the rate is 9.1%.
Spread through health workers
Amazon’s people are the most detached indigenous people in the world. Then, how did they come in touch with Coronavirus? It may be surprising but the answer is through health workers. The New York Times reported this.
In deep Amazon, there is Kanamari tribe detached themselves completely at the very beginning of the outbreak of Coronavirus. But after the routine checkup of Sesai heath workers, symptoms of the virus started to show. Old people started having breathing difficulties. Health workers could invade the tribal people. Reason of this can be the insufficiency of defensive measures.
Go in the deep
It’s nothing new to the tribal society. For someone, it is direct experience, and for some it’s ancestral knowledge. “There is a pandemic? Then go in the deep" that's the rule they follows.
Let’s listen to the leader of Ecuadorian tribe -
“We will tell our people that, there is outbreak of plague so go in the deep of the jungle”
From an inaccessible Waorani village, Chief Manuelito Pouchy said -
“Outsiders are doing very wrong. They are ruining the living space of animals. They are creating these problems and killing the world. We will go deep in the jungle and eat natural foods and medicines. It will keep our body strong and healthy”
Detachment: A blessing or a curse?
Coronavirus is affecting mega cities, which have thousands of people in them. If we think like this then, the Amazon residents have lower chance of getting infected. For this, being detached is proving to be a boon for them. But after the conformation of Covid 19 case, this thing is turning into curse for them, for not having sufficient information, medical treatment available. To reach the closest hospital they need to use Kano (small boats), and even it will take few days to reach.
Going back to the traditional medication
Because of being, detached and the carelessness of the government, many of them are turning back to the traditional medication system. By using, the knowledge and experience, gained from their ancestors they are treating Coronavirus patients. Māori tribe people are mixing tree bark, honey and other medicines to make medicine for Coronavirus.
Tribal head, Andrew Maori reportedly said to AFP that -
“We have noticed every symptom, and we are treating it with home remedies”
Amazon rainforest is called “The Natural Pharmacy” in a relevant way. 25% of modern medicines are made from Amazon plants. Let us add this information that, only 5% 0f 8000 plants have been experimented.
What steps are being taken by the government?
Because of the extremist Brazil president Jair Messias Bolsonaro, Amazon residents are already going through a bad phase. We can still remember the fire blazing across the Amazon, Brazil. “In this pandemic, Bolsonaro is trying to forget the indigenous people” that’s what the indigenous people are thinking.
Even though they have assured that, they are going to pass law for the resistance of Coronavirus for the indigenous people but because of president’s veto this couldn’t happen. But, for the indigenous people Bolsonaro has deployed militaries to the Amazon.