Sabarimala’s Covid Count Rises, Kerala Government Revises Health Guidelines

In the wake of a spike in Covid cases during the Sabarimala pilgrimage season, the Kerala State government has revised the guidelines for pilgrimage. The Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test has been made mandatory for all pilgrims and officials on duty who reach the shrine after the Mandala Puja on December 26. All of them should bring the Covid negative certificate taken from an accredited lab 24 hours before reaching the base camp, Nilakkal.

According to official sources, 299 people, including 51 pilgrims, 245 employees and three others, have contracted the infection so far after the hill temple was thrown open for the annual Mandala-Makaravilakku pilgrimage last month. Also, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts where pilgrims converge had reported an increase by 31% and 11% of cases respectively during the pilgrimage season.

All the pilgrims to follow the Covid protocol strictly, should keep physical distance while trekking the holy hills and close contacts between devotees should be avoided to ensure there was no chance of super-spread of the infection. Pilgrims should wash hands frequently, maintain social distancing, and wear face masks and should carry sanitisers throughout the pilgrimage. Those who contracted the disease recently or having symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or fatigue should refrain from the pilgrimage, overcrowding should be avoided at the base camps and toilets should be disinfected after each use.