The Durga Malleswara Swamy Varla Devasthanam Temple management in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, has denied news reports which said that at least 18 of their temple staff members had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. On Friday, multiple news reports claimed that the temple staff had COVID-19, creating concerns amongst the devotees. Despite travel and accommodation hassles, the temple is witnessing scores of devotees as it is the ‘Sravana Masam’ (the auspicious month in the Hindu calendar). However, the chairman of the Devasthanam, Paila Sominaidu, dismissed the reports of temple employees having COVID-19.
Speaking to a leading media house, Sominaidu said, “Two months earlier, two of our staff members (record assistants) tested positive. This was before the temple reopening. But they have recovered and joined duties. Another priest tested positive 15 days ago – he did not attend duties when he was sick and later, succumbed to the disease. Now, the executive officer is showing mild symptoms and he got himself admitted at a hospital. The reports that 18 people in the temple are coronavirus positive are baseless.”
The chairman assured that the temple is being regularly sanitized and that physical distance and other COVID-19 protocols mandated by the government are strictly being followed. “The devotees need not fear contracting the infection by visiting the temple. Using fluoride, the temple is being sanitized regularly; all the staff members are wearing masks and gloves. All the preventive measures are being duly followed,” Sominaidu asserted.
Temples across Andhra Pradesh, except those that are in containment zones, were reopened on June 10 after the lockdown rules were relaxed. Before the reopening of the Durga temple, 1,000 staff members underwent the COVID-19 test and after testing negative, were allowed to perform duties