RT-PCR not mandatory for children to perform Sabarimala pilgrimage

Parents or adults accompanying the children shall ensure soap,sanitizer, mask and social distancing. Photo: PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: Children accompanying parents going to the Lord Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala does not have to take a mandatory RT-PCR test, the Kerala government said.

As per an order, dated November 26, parents and adults, who are accompanying the little devotees, shall ensure that they carry soaps, sanitizers and mask and adhere to social distancing norms. It also made it clear that pilgrims and staff, deployed to Sabarimala, shall possess either a two dose vaccination certificate or RT-PCR negative certificate within 72 hours.

"The government is pleased to clarify that children are allowed to go on Sabarimala pilgrimage without RT-PCR test. Parents or adults accompanying the children shall ensure S.M.S. (soap/sanitizer, mask and social distancing) and they are accountable for the children's health issues," the order said.

Despite COVID-19 situation, hundreds of devotees have been trekking the hills to offer prayers at the Ayyappa temple since it opened on November 16 for the two-month-long annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season. Like the previous year, the devotees are being allowed through a virtual queue system this time also as part of efforts to regulate the flow of pilgrims in view of the pandemic and heavy rains.

(With inputs from PTI)

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