The famous Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram has been temporarily closed for devotees till October 15 as 12 staff members, including 10 priests, have tested positive for coronavirus.
"Daily pujas will be done by the 'tantri', but no 'darshan' will be allowed," Padmanabhaswamy Temple's Executive Officer Ratheeshan IAS said, adding that the 'tantri' usually heads only special ceremonies, but he will fill in now because both the chief priests have COVID-19.
"The decision was taken after two chief priests, eight sub-priests and two guards at the Padmanabhaswamy temple tested positive for coronavirus. They all were asymptomatic", Mr Ratheeshan added.
The Padmanabhaswamy Temple had opened its doors for devotees on August 26, albeit with certain restriction, after remaining closed for the public since the last week of March
Besides compulsory wearing of masks, hand sanitisation and social distancing, the temple has restricted the number of devotees allowed per day, and during specific time slots in the morning and evening. Devotees are also not allowed to touch the idol, walls or any other surfaces.
The temporary closure comes in the backdrop of a surge in coronavirus cases in Kerala where 2.58 lakh people have been infected till now and 930 have died.
The surge has led to re-imposition of many restrictions on movement and gatherings. In capital Thiruvananthapuram large gatherings have been banned till October 31.
India now has a total of 69 lakh coronavirus cases.
For three weeks, the number of new recoveries across the country has exceeded new cases, which have also declined steadily over this span, the Health Ministry has said. However, health experts have warned of a sharp spike in cases in some parts of the country ahead of the festival season and winter months.