Sabarimala opens; 5k pilgrims allowed a day

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 18, 2021

Both vaccination doses or negative RT-PCR certificate mandatory

The Sabarimala temple, the hill shrine in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, reopened on Friday until July 21 for monthly rituals on the first five days of the Malayalam calendar, and only 5,000 pilgrims are being allowed darshan a day, in view of Covid-19 protocols.

Pilgrims will be allowed inside only if they show a Covid-19 vaccination certificate for both doses or a negative RT-PCR report not older than the preceding 48 hours. The hill shrine has remained shut due to rising test positivity that refuses to budge below an elongated plateau at around 10 per cent.

Third wave by Aug end

The benign development at Sabarimala was matched by a sombre observation by a senior scientist of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) that a third wave of coronavirus may hit India by August-end. The country may see nearly one lakh cases every day, warned senior scientist Samiran Panda.

Panda heads the Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the ICMR. According to him, States need to look into their own data and find out at which stage of the pandemic they are in. “The third wave could happen around August end. We need to be careful,” he said.

Also read: Kerala relaxes lockdown curbs

Panda’s warning comes on the heels of the Indian Medical Association airing similar views about a third wave of Covid-19 that it said was ‘inevitable and imminent.’ It had also noted that the authorities continue to be complacent and allow mass gatherings without following Covid protocols.

Early Covid restrictions had stopped the infection on time and left many people unaffected, Panda said. So, there is a distinct possibility of the third wave because some States still have vulnerable populations.

Covid norms

The Kerala government has directed officials to enforce mask-wearing and use of sanitisers and other Covid-appropriate behaviour including maintaining social distancing as the hill shrine opened for the auspicious first five days of the Malayalam month, offering a darshan of Lord Ayyappa.

Published on July 17, 2021

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