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Opinion

Prepare precautionary measures in Sabarimala in view of Covid-19

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With only one day left until the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple opens for the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku season, the Kerala government said elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure that no Covid-19 patients make it to the hilltop shrine for the pilgrimage.

This time, the entire pilgrimage would take place via the virtual queuing system, so the usual great rush can be regulated, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said after a high-level meeting of officials to review final preparations. at the temple on Friday.

Detailing various measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth pilgrimage in the wake of the pandemic, Surendran said that every pilgrim visiting the sanctuary must carry a negative COVID certificate, taken within the last 24 hours.

Covid-19 test kiosks would be opened in Pampa and Nilakkal, the base camps, to help devotees take the test before starting the trek.

Aside from this, the health department would arrange for antigen testing at various centers, including all bus stalls and train stations in Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruvalla, Chengannur and Kottayam, where pilgrims arrive to head to Lord Ayyappa temple, he said. .

Steps will be taken to ensure social distancing and allow pilgrims to darshan.

To do this, a specific place would be marked for each devotee, the minister said, adding that people between 60 and 65 years old must present a certificate of medical aptitude.

Those who test positive for the viral infection, including those from other states, will receive appropriate treatment until they test negative.

The treatment can be given in public or private hospitals according to the demand of the pilgrims.

All the arrangements, including the installation of ambulances, have been made at the government medical colleges in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam and also at the private hospitals in these districts, he said.

Noting that the mask was not mandatory for pilgrims during trekking, Surendran said that the relaxation was in accordance with the protocol that provided exemption during high physical activity, but that devotees must follow the strict COVID protocol.

Used masks should not be thrown away and arrangements will be made to collect and recycle them, official sources added.

The annual two-month Mandalam-Makaravilakku season at the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple, located in the Pathanamthitta district, would begin on November 16.

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