Children taking part in the ongoing pilgrimage to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala will not need a negative RT-PCR test report, the state government has announced.
The Kerala government said in a November 26 order that parents or adults accompanying the children on the pilgrimage to the shrine in Pathanamthitta district will have to ensure that they carry sanitisers, soaps, and masks and follow physical distancing norms.
The government announcement also said that parents or adults accompanying the children will be accountable for their health issues, news agency Asian News International reported.
Adult devotees and staff members deployed at the temple will have to show a two-dose vaccination certificate or a negative RT-PCR test report no older than 72 hours, according to the order signed by Additional Secretary B Surendran Pillai.
Thousands of pilgrims have been embarking on treks to the hill shrine to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappa following the temple’s reopening on November 16 for the annual 41-day mandalam and makaravilakku pilgrimage season.
The authorities have also put in place strict Covid-19 protocols for devotees visiting the shrine. The government has set up a virtual queue system as part of its efforts to regulate the pilgrim flow in view of the pandemic and the heavy rainfall. The devotees have directed to carry their original Aadhaar cards. Staff members of the Travancore Devaswom Board are collecting the ghee that the pilgrims bring for Neyyabhishekam from special counters, and returning sanctified ghee from a separate outlet.
The government has also arranged for the pilgrims to purchase the ‘prasadam’ during their return to Pampa following darshan. Kerala has been at the forefront of India’s Covid-19 caseload with a total tally of 5,112,789 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. On Friday, the state reported 4,677 cases and 33 deaths, the health department said. Kerala’s total death toll from the pandemic stands at 39,125.
At present, Kerala has 49,459 active cases, of which 7.2% are in hospitals.