After Tirumala, Covid-19 rings alarm bells in Annavaram temple

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After Tirumala, growing cases of Covid-19 positive cases have been reported in Sri Veera Venkata Satyanarayana Swamy Temple, popularly known as Annavaram temple. On a single day on Wednesday, at least 50 employees were tested positive for coronavirus, test results of another 200 people is awaited. The swell in the number of Covid-19 cases has sent alarm bells among the officials.

Last Saturday, at least 39 employees working in Annavaram Devasthanam tested positive for Covid -19 as was confirmed by executive officer Vendra Trinatha Rao. Among the 39 employees, at least 10 purohits and two archakas tested positive. Following the alarming rise in corona cases in the temple, darshans have been temporarily suspended till August 23.

In Tirumala, at least 743 staff of the TTD tested positive for the deadly infection and three have succumbed to the virus since 11 June. TTD executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal had confirmed that 743 were tested positive for Covid-19, three employees succumbed, 402 personnel have recovered from infection while 338 people were undergoing treatment at different COVID care facilities.

At least 15 ‘archakas’ working at Tirumala temple tested positive for COVID-19 and were shifted to Tirupati where they were admitted to various hospitals. Honorary chief priest and agama advisor Ramana Dikshitulu had appealed to the TTD to close the shrine to devotees for a few weeks to protect the priests. TTD Pedda Jeeyar Swamy Sri Satagopa Ramanuja Pedda Jeeyangar had recently tested positive for Covid-19 and was shifted to Apollo Hospital in Chennai.

However, TTD Trust Board chairman Y V Subba Reddy on July 16 ruled out suspension of darshans while reacting to Deekshitulu’s tweet. While the Andhra Pradesh government had reimposed complete lockdown till August 15 in Tirupati, the TTD is yet to temporarily suspend Sri Vari ‘darshans’. Tirumala was exempted from complete lockdown despite the fact that several TTD employees, priests, and devotees contracted the virus.

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