Bhubaneswar: In view of the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Sunday decided to convert the Nilachal Bhakta Niwas on Grand Road in Puri into a COVID Care Centre for Srimandir servitors as well as officials.
The administration of the 12th century shrine took to Twitter to say, “In view of the present COVID situation, today @krishan_kumar09, Chief Administrator, Shree Jagannatha Temple Administration has decided to convert Nilanchal Bhakt Nivas on Grand Road, Puri, into a COVID Care Centre. This facility will be set up for Sevayats and officials (sic).”
Necessary arrangements for manpower and medical supplies were being made with the support of the Chief District Medical Officer of Puri, it added.
Notably, the Holy City reported 149 Covid cases, Sunday. The Pilgrim Town has witnessed 129 cases Saturday and 114 infections April 16.
Meanwhile, a massive sanitisation drive was undertaken in and around the shrine, Sunday in accordance with a revised standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the temple administration April 16.
Apart from the temple complex, the Fire Services personnel along with the Puri Municipality officials sanitised the areas near the Lion’s Gate, barricades, shoe stands and nearby areas, sources said.
According to the new SOP, the shrine will remain open for devotees on all days of the week except for Saturdays and Sundays when sanitisation will be carried out as it would help break the COVID chain. However, the rituals of the temple will be carried out by the servitors as per schedule.
All devotees coming in from other states will have to produce COVID-19 negative reports generated within 96 hours of their entry. Alternatively, those who have received both doses of vaccine can produce the vaccination certificate for entry into the shrine, said the new SOP.
Moreover, all devotees will be required to bring their photo identity cards for identification at the shrine entrance. They could enter the temple through the Lion’s Gate in queue passing through barricades and must exit through other three gates. It is mandatory for the devotees to follow COVID-19 norms, including social distancing and wearing of facemasks on the temple premises, said the SOP, adding that those flouting the norms will be fined if required, and will be refused entry to the temple.
The shrine reopened in December last year, after remaining out of bounds for devotees since March 20, 2020.