In view of rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Tuesday asked pilgrims to postpone their visit to the famous cave shrine of Hindus. In an official statement released by the Chief Executive Officer of the shrine board Ramesh Kumar said that while the yatra has not been suspended, they have asked pilgrims to put off their visit for now.

"We have not suspended the yatra... all necessary measures have been taken to meet the challenge posed by coronavirus infection," news agency PTI quoted Kumar as saying. He added that given the rapidly rising cases of coronavirus infections in the country, it would be better for the pilgrims to postpone their visit to Vaishno Devi Temple till the time things get back to normal.

Vaishno Devi
Vaishno DeviWikimedia Commons

The Vaishno Devi Shrine Board has made it mandatory for the pilgrims to fill the Self Reporting Form available at yatra registration counters, accommodations, and the helipad terminal. They will also have to undergo thermal scanning at the base camp in Katra before moving ahead.

The shrine board's CEO also said that they have taken several precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus, including curtailing 'Atka Aarti' time, closing Garbhjoon Cave at Adhkuwari among few others. Yatra in groups has also been restricted.

India coronavirus death count rises to 3, total cases jump to 142

The deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 has killed nearly 7,000 people and infected more than 1.5 lakh globally. In India, the virus has claimed three lives with 142 positive cases. While one person died in Karnataka, another patient hailed from Delhi. The latest death occurred in Mumbai, Maharashtra where the most number of coronavirus positive cases have been detected.

As the total number of infected people continues to rise, the Government of India has imposed travel restrictions on nationals of several countries, including the European Union, Malaysia, Philippines, Afghanistan, and China.

While questions are being raised about the government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has praised India's commitment to combat the novel coronavirus. Henk Bekedam, the WHO Representative to India, said that the "the commitment of the Indian government from the top level -- the Prime Minister's office himself -- has been enormous, very impressive."