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743 staff of Tirupati temple test Covid +ve, 3 succumb

TIRUPATI/NEW DELHI: As many as 743 staff of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) including some priests of the Lord Venkateswara shrine at Tirumala have tested Covid positive and three have succumbed to the virus since June 11, a top TTD official said on Sunday.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singh, who interacted with pilgrims and devotees from various parts of the country as part of Dial Your EO programme, said since the Srivari temple opened for 'darshan' to devotees on June 11, so far, 743 TTD employees tested positive for COVID-19 and of them 402 have recovered and joined duties. Another 338 are undergoing treatment in TTD rest houses-turned-COVID centres at Srinivasam, Vishnunivasam and Madhavam.

"Only three employees succumbed to the virus and we are giving the best possible arrangements and treatment to all our employees in the Covid centres," he said.

The EO said following Covid guidelines prescribed by the Centre and state governments, the TTD resumed 'darshan' for pilgrims from June 11 onwards.

"Initially everyone appreciated the move of TTD. But as soon as the cases started increasing in Tirupati, the blame was thrown on us by social media and also by some vested persons that we have resumed 'darshan' only to make money. We are spending more money on all facilities of Covid measures rather than what we are making from pilgrims," he said adding that so far devotees have expressed immense satisfaction over the arrangements of 'darshan', accommodation, Kalyana Katta, laddu, annaprasadam and other facilities made by TTD.

"The cases have not increased in Tirupati alone but the entire state as well the country is facing a similar problem," he asserted.

Singhal said about 2.38 lakh pilgrims from different parts of the country had 'darshan' of Lord Venkateswara in July.

Speaking to the media after the Dial your EO programme, the EO said, though there was a dip in the footfall to Tirumala due to surge of COVID-19 cases across the country, from the past three days, the number of pilgrims picked up again.

"On August 8, about 8500-odd pilgrims had 'darshan' against the quota of 9,000 tickets," he observed.

With agency inputs

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