Excerpt from ScientificAmerican
Over a choppy phone call to the remote Nicobar archipelago, I told Indigenous leader Ayesha Majid that my friends in Delhi were dropping like flies. A horrific second wave of COVID-19 was ravaging India; crematoria were running out of wood and graveyards were running out of space. “Brother, how did this happen?” she asked in disbelief.
Earlier this year, COVID resurged in India with a vengeance. For a week in May, the country contributed over half of the daily COVID cases reported globally. COVID deaths in urban India are now abating, but people in rural India have been dying in droves.
Thus far in the second wave, however, the almost 24,000 Indigenous Nicobarese people, living on 11 tiny islands in the Bay of Bengal, have recorded not a single infection. The Nicobar archipelago is home to not only to these Indigenous peoples but also to more than 13,000 officials, defense personnel and settlers from mainland India. Early in the pandemic, they had thoughtlessly brought the virus to this remote outpost by traveling there from the adjacent Andaman archipelago.
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