At least 743 employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) tested positive for COVID-19 after the temple was opened for darshan (prayers) on June 11, following relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
Of the 743 TTD employees who tested positive for the deadly virus, 402 have recovered and resumed their duties. However, another 338 are currently undergoing treatment in TTD rest houses which have been converted into COVID centres at Srinivasam, Vishnunivasam and Madhavam, TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal said.
At least three employees succumbed to the virus.
"Initially everyone appreciated the move of TTD. But as soon as the cases started increasing in Tirupati, the blame was thrown on us by social media and also by some vested persons that we have resumed darshan only to make money. We are spending more money on all facilities of COVID measures rather than what we are making out from pilgrims," he added.
Singhal also said that the coronavirus cases have not just increased in Tirupati, but the entire state as well the country is facing a similar problem.
Nearly 2.38 lakh pilgrims from across the country had visited Tirupati for darshan of Lord Venkateswara in July.
"Even though there was a dip in the footfall to Tirumala due to surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, from the past three days, the number of pilgrims picked up again," he said.
"On August 8, about 8500-odd pilgrims had darshan against the quota of 9000 tickets", he observed.