YV Subba Reddy, the chairman of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), is not bothered about 140 employees being tested positive for the coronavirus pandemic. He said that the darshan at Tirumala will continue with precautionary measures.
With 3,536 confirmed cases of Covid-19, Chittoor stands in second place in Andhra Pradesh's area-wise list of cases. Among these numbers, over 1,000 Covid cases were reported in Tirupati alone. These numbers have made the temple city a coronavirus hotspot in the Chittoor district. While the rising cases are a big concern for the residents of the city, they were in for another shock on Thursday.
Fourteen of the 40 archakas of the main temple were tested positive for the coronavirus. With this, the total count of TTD employees testing positive reached 140 on Thursday. YV Subba Reddy, the chairman of the TTD Trust Board, held a meeting with the archakas on Thursday to take a stock of the situation.
"So far, 140 employees, including 14 archakas, potu workers and security staff, tested positive for the virus. Of them, 70 have recovered and some of them returned to work. Only one employee is in the ICU, and we are in touch with the SVIMS authorities and monitoring the recovery," the New Indian Express quoted Subba Reddy as telling the media.
The TTD chairman said that the archakas will give separate accommodation and meals so that they can stay in isolation. He added, "They also suggested that of the 40 archakas of the main temple, those who are aged above 60 years be sent to home quarantine or posted at Tirupati. We asked our officials to consider their suggestion."
'No devotee tested positive for coronavirus'
Meanwhile, Subba Reddy said that no devotee tested positive for coronavirus. Hence, Srivari darshan for devotees will continue at Tirumala with precautionary measures. He said, "None of the employees got the infection from devotees. It was mainly through their relatives and people in their neighbourhood. We are pooling young archakas from other local temples."
Subba Reddy said that rituals will be held as per the tradition and the safety of archakas will be taken care of. "The safety of archakas is of paramount importance. We made it clear that if the situation gets worse, darshan for devotees will be stopped, but 'kainkaryams' will be done without any hindrance," he stated.