Raute settlement still untouched by COVID-19 pandemic

Published On: May 31, 2021 12:50 PM NPT By: Republica

SURKHET, May 31: As the entire human community is being affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Raute community has been able to avoid the infection from the virus as not a single case of COVID-19 infection has been detected among Raute people living in Surkhet. All Raute people tested negative for the virus during a test conducted among the Raute community two days ago by Gurmakot Municipality-7 of Surkhet.

Nirajan Bista, coordinator of the Health Office at Guras Rural Municipality, said the Raute community is currently untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Among the 145 members in the community, an antigen test was conducted among 11 of them. They are all tested negative for the virus,” he said. 

A week ago, a youth named Shiv Raj Shahi died after suffering from high fever, which raised concern over the possible spread of COVID-19 in the community. “We conducted 11 tests after hearing about the death of a community member after suffering from high fever,” Bista said. “The negative reports have helped us conclude that the community is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic so far,” he added.

According to Hira Sinha Thapa, founding president of Social Service Center, the Raute community does not use any health services or medicines for treatment but uses herbs when they are taken ill. Due to the prohibitory orders enforced in the district, no one has entered the Raute community. The Raute people, who fend off for themselves by making wooden utensils and selling them, have also not been able to exit their settlement area. “This could be a reason why COVID-19 has not affected the community,” he said.

Mayor Hasta Pun of Gurmakot Rural Municipality said the Rautes wander the forest on a daily basis, consume wild herbs of the forest and avoid market goods for consumption. “Their way of life could be the reason why they are still not affected by the virus. We will conduct health check-ups as long as they stay in the municipal area,” he said.

Food distribution

The Social Service Center conducted a food distribution program for the Raute community as they could not sell their wooden utensils to make their living because of the prohibitory order. Each household in the community received as much as a sack of rice, salt, cooking oil, chillies, and lentils. 

According to the Chief of the Raute Community, the settlement had been facing scarcity of food due to the prohibitory orders enforced in the district. “Earlier, many people used to bring us food but no one has come to the settlement due to fear of COVID-19,” he said. “There is a food crisis in the settlement.” 

He also said that they faced additional hardships as they could not receive their allowances on time. “We have not been able to go to the forest. Nor have we been able to make any wooden utensils,” he complained. “On top of that, the government has not given us our allowances on time. This has increased our problems further.” 

The Rautes are concerned about imminent food crisis as the food distributed by the Social Service Center will last them only for a week. 


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