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16th Feb 2022

Remote island one of last covid-free places on Earth but tourist risk being killed

Danny Jones

North Sentinel Island Covid-free

The island is one of the most isolated places on planet Earth

A small, secluded island located in the Indian Ocean is thought to be one of the last covid-free places left on Earth – the only problem is, if you decided to go there, you’d probably be killed.

North Sentinel Island, which belongs to the Andaman Islands – an Indian archipelago sitting in the Bay of Bengal – is one of the most scarcely explored regions on the planet with only an estimated 400 people thought to be living there.

North Sentinel Island tribes

Aside from wildlife, its inhabitants consist of indigenous tribes known as the Sentinelese, who are said to be extremely hostile and have been reported to have killed visitors on sight.

Indian authorities say the ancient isle is so dangerous that they established an exclusion zone around it, making it illegal for anyone to go within three miles. As such, North Sentinel Island has remained untouched not only by modern civilisation but also by modern diseases, meaning its population would also have very little immunity to new pathogens.

Back in 2006, two men were killed by the isolated tribe after they were caught fishing nearby, not to mention regularly throwing stones and shooting arrows at passing planes and helicopters. As recently as 2018, a 26-year-old American missionary named John Chau was captured and killed after illegally visiting the island in an attempt to convert them.

While North Sentinel Island and its tribespeople may have remained unscathed by the pandemic, an adjacent group known as the Great Andamanese – who are situated on a similarly remote island in the archipelago – were reported to have tested positive for the virus in 2020.

It is said that there were only 59 members of the tribe remaining at the time; were covid-19 to infect the Sentinelese people, regardless of a slightly larger population, the ramifications could be potentially catastrophic.

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