In the wake of the surge in the cases during Sabarimala pilgrimage season, the Kerala Health Department has revised the guidelines, making it mandatory for the devotees and officials on duty at Sabarimala, to undergo RT-PCR test, RT-Lamp or Express Nat test.
So far, 299 people including devotees and officials on duty at the Sabarimala hill shrine, have tested positive for coronavirus since the temple opened for the annual 'Mandala-Makaravilakku' pilgrimage season last month.
-The test is mandatory for all pilgrims and officials on duty who reach the shrine after the Mandala Puja on December 26.
Of the 299 people, 51 were devotees, 245 were Devaswom Board employees, and three others, Health Minister KK Shailaja informed. She added that Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts, where pilgrims converge, saw an increase by 31 per cent and 11 per cent of cases respectively during the pilgrimage season, NDTV reported.
Apart from the test, the revised guidelines include:
- They are ensuring compliance with COVID protocol, by maintaining social distance, wearing masks, as well as limiting the number of people visiting the temple.
- Precautions should be taken during travel as well. People visiting the temple should carry sanitisers throughout the pilgrimage.
- For the ones who test positive and those with symptoms such as fever, cough, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and loss of smell should avoid the pilgrimage.
- COVID negative certificates obtained 24 hours prior to arrival necessary.
- Those who have recovered from COVID need to ensure physical fitness before visiting.
- Toilets should be sanitised after use and return journey downhill should not be done in groups.
- Drivers, cleaners, and cooks accompanying pilgrims must also adhere to the Health Department guidelines.
- Overcrowding should be avoided at the base camps, and toilets should be disinfected after each use.