By Hanie Abdul Razak
Sabarimala: An antigen testing drive held at Pampa revealed that 26 persons, among 239 persons who are on duty at the Sabarimala temple, have tested positive for coronavirus. The 26 persons who tested positive include 18 policemen.
According to The Hindu, a total of 18,691 tests have been conducted in Sabarimala till December 12, out of which 245 persons have tested positive. Among the positive cases, 79 are pilgrims and 169 are the rest. Most of the 169 cases are those of people who were on duty at the Sannidhanam (main temple).
President of the TDB N. Vasu was quoted in The Hindu saying, “Despite the mobility factor, the spread among the pilgrims has been far lesser than expected though it has been a bit different for the employees, who share common amenities at Sannidhanam. Almost all who are staying in and around the temple have been subjected to testing by now and barring a few isolated cases, no serious risks are in sight.”
He was also quoted in The New Indian Express saying that steps were immediately taken to control the COVID spread among employees after police officers and Devasvom employees tested positive, they were provided separate rooms and ensured social distancing at the mess.
However, an internal report prepared on December 9 and submitted to the health department analysing the epidemic curve among the staff in Sabarimala from November 14 to December 9 revealed a massive increase in cases in the past seven days (90 cases).
According to health officials, persons who have tested positive have been immediately shifted to treatment centres but most of their primary contacts, who may be asymptomatic, have been allowed to stay back citing insufficient replacements.
Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayur was recently shut down for two weeks due to similar circumstances after 22 employees working at temple tested positive on Friday. Pilgrims are waiting with bated breath if Sabarimala Temple is soon to follow.
Meanwhile, a review of the steps taken to control the spread of COVID-19 and the demand for increasing the limit of pilgrims allowed to the shrine will be discussed in a high-level committee meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary Vishwas Mehta today.