39 COVID positive cases so far in Sabarimala

Adhering to COVID-19 protocols, devotees trek Sabarimala
Devotees maintain social distance while standing in queues to offer prayers at Lord Ayyappa temple. Photo: PTI

Sabarimala: As many as 39 people including pilgrims, police personnel and temple employees, have tested positive for coronavirus in Sabarimala so far since the Lord Ayyappa temple here was opened for the annual pilgrimage season on November 16.

According to Travancore Devaswom Board sources here, of the total positive cases, 27 were employees of various departments and all of them were shifted to the first line COVID treatment centres immediately.

All necessary precautionary measures had been taken at the shrine premises and base camps adhering to COVID-19 guidelines, they said.

"Four employees of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) including two temporary staff are among those who have been tested positive during the period," a TDB official told.

Two employees of the police mess here were tested positive on Thursday.

The total 39 positive cases were those reported at various points including Sannidhanam (temple complex) and Pamba and Nilakkal, the base camps, the official added.

In view of the pandemic outbreak, the Health department has made elaborate arrangements for antigen tests in various centres including all bus stands and railway stations at Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvalla, Chengannur and Kottayam, where pilgrims arrive to proceed to the Ayyappa temple.

As per COVID protocols, those in the 10-60 age group were only allowed to offer prayers at the shrine, where lakhs of devotees visit each year during the pilgrimage season.

Doctors, including specialists, were posted on a rotation basis in Sabarimala.

The auspicious Mandala pooja would be held on December 26.

After the Makaravilakku ritual on January 14, the temple would be closed on January 20, marking the end of the season.

It is the first annual pilgrimage season at the hill temple after the coronavirus outbreak.

(With inputs from PTI)

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