Coronavirus outbreak: devotee limits weekend at Puri Shree Jagannath temple

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Puri Shree Jagannath Temple in Odisha will remain closed to worshipers on weekends due to the upsurge in Covid-19 cases. Saturday and Sunday, the temple will be disinfected.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) said on Friday that restrictions on worshipers would take effect from April 24.

“Most people come to the temple on weekends. In order to avoid unnecessary overcrowding, we decided to close the temple for two days (over a week). If the situation persists, the Rath Yatra will be held this year without the participation of the faithful as in the previous year. The festival will be held on a restricted basis where servants who test negative for Covid will be allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra, ”said a senior SJTA official.

All worshipers visiting Jagannath Temple from out of state will be required to bring a negative Covid-19 certificate. The test (RT-PCR) must be done 96 hours before their visit to the temple or they will be required to produce a report confirming that they have already received the second dose of the Covid vaccine.

“All worshipers will need to bring a photo ID card like an Aadhaar card or voter card or other similar document for identification,” an official said.

According to standard operating procedures issued by the SJTA, lighting of diyas (earthen lamps) inside the temple by worshipers will not be allowed at all.

“Devotees are asked not to touch the statue or the idols inside the temple,” the SOP said.

It has also been decided that 300 servants who currently attend Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand will be required to be tested for Covid-19 upon their return.

“Before entering the sanctuary, they will have to pass the RT-PCR test. Everyone, whether devotees, servants, or police entering the temple, will need to wear masks. We will fine those who do not. It will be strictly enforced. We will also educate people on maintaining social distancing, ”said an official.

Thousands of worshipers have tested positive for Covid-19 at Kumbh Mela.

On Friday, Odisha reported 3,108 cases of Covid-19 – the highest daily number so far this year.

Faced with the increase in cases, the higher education department announced on Friday the suspension of theoretical and practical exams for students. The revised timetable will be communicated to the students at a later date after consultation with the rectors. All hostels have been asked to vacate their respective hostels by Monday.

The state government is concerned about the influx of people from neighboring Chhattisgarh, where the total number of cases has passed the lakh bar. In addition to a nighttime curfew, the neighboring district of Nuapada on Friday forced section 144 of the CrPC at Khariar Notified Area Council (NAC) to ban unnecessary movement of people across the interstate border. Previously, the state government announced a ban on religious congregations and political gatherings.

Odisha’s government said on Friday it had received three more lakh doses from Covishield. The vaccines arrived here on a special flight from the Serum Institute of India in Pune. So far, 48,10,780 people in the state have been vaccinated, officials said.


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