PURI: Amid the surge in Covid cases in Puri, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) is likely to issue a revised standard operating procedure (SOP) on Saturday. Chief administrator of SJTA Dr Krishan Kumar on Wednesday said like those from outside Odisha, devotees from the State may be asked to furnish RT-PCR negative report or complete vaccination certificate for entry into Srimandir. The decision will be taken in view of the rise in positive cases in both the pilgrim town and the district.
Puri reported 223 fresh Covid cases on Wednesday as compared to 193 the previous day. The new cases included 122 detected in Puri town. The SJTA has taken several steps to protect Srimandir servitors who continue to perform daily rituals of the Trinity despite the prevailing Covid situation. The SJTA chief said the administration is gearing up to reopen Covid facilities that were closed after the first coronavirus wave. A 40-bed dedicated Covid hospital has been set up on the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) campus to treat infected servitors. The temple-run hotel Niladri Bhakta Nivas has also been transformed into a Covid care home. All the beds would have oxygen supply.
If any servitor needs ICU or ventilator facilities, he would be shifted to the IDH Covid hospital. The Covid care centre would have adequate number of doctors and paramedical staff as well as an ambulance, Dr Kumar informed. A dedicated vaccination centre for servitors is currently operational. Moreover, immunity-boosting homoeopathic drugs have been given to the servitors for the fifth time.
Dr Kumar further said, the administration is keeping a close watch on servitors who returned from Kumbh Mela at Haridwar. Till date, 32 servitors have returned to Puri and their swab samples were tested. Only one was found Covid-19 positive. Health workers are making doorstep visit of every servitor family and collecting their travel and health history. Health teams are also providing treatment to servitors in home isolation.
A seven-member body of servitors has been formed to carry out vaccination of all temple priests aged over 18 years from May 1. RT-PCR test of all carpenters, temple employees and servitors, who will be involved in construction of chariots for the annual Rath Yatra, would be conducted. They will also be vaccinated, he added. Three teams comprising the temple security and police personnel are ensuring strict adherence to the SOP and Covid guidelines by devotees entering Srimandir.
Meanwhile, chief carpenters of the three chariots set off for Cuttack with ‘ajnamallyas’ of the Trinity to start sawing timber logs in a government-run saw mill in Khapuria industrial estate. As per tradition, sawing of timber for construction of the Raths starts on the occasion of Ramanavami. However this year, hand sawing of the logs by temple carpenters has been stopped due to the current Covid situation. Sources said almost all the timber logs for the three chariots have reached the saw mill.
Safety measures in shrine
Devotees from the State may have to furnish RT-PCR negative report or vaccination certificate for Srimandir entry
32 servitors return to Puri from Kumbh Mela, one tests positive
7-member team formed to vaccinate servitors aged over 18 years
Chief carpenters of three chariots set off for Cuttack to start Rath construction work
Carpenters, temple employees and servitors involved in construction of chariots to be inoculated