RT-PCR test mandatory for Sabarimala pilgrims from today
Devotees visiting the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala will have to carry with them a Covid-19 negative certificate after undergoing an RT-PCR test, the Kerala High Court and state government have directed. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the temple, has also said the RT-PCR test certificate, taken not more than 48 hours prior to their visit to the temple, is must for pilgrims from December 26.
“Covid-19-negative certificate after a RT-PCR test, taken not more than 48 hours prior to their visit to the temple, is a must for the pilgrims to visit the shrine. Else they will not be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage,” N Vasu, TDB president, said in a release.
The recent directive by the High Court has also raised the number of pilgrims permissible daily to 5,000. In the view of the increase in the number of permitted pilgrims at the hill shrine, the state Health Department has intensified the antigen testing in Sabarimala.
The TDB, however, limited to 100 the number of people taking part in the three-day procession carrying the Thiruvabharanam to be adorned on the idol of Lord Ayyappa during the Makaravilakku ceremony. The receptions to the procession at various points on the way to Sabarimala have been cancelled, TDB said.
The temple will remain closed after the Mandala Puja on December 26 and reopen for the Makaravilakku pooja on December 31. This is the first annual pilgrimage season at the hill temple after the coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, over 5,000 fresh cases of coronavirus were recorded in Kerala on Friday, including 46 health workers, and the test positivity rate touched 11.4%. The death toll mounted to 2,930 with 16 deaths being added to the tally. With this, the Covid-19 caseload in the state mounted to 7,32,084 and the total recoveries touched 6,64,951.
(with agency inputs)