Rath Yatra: Servitors, cops and officials to undergo RT-PCR tests four times

Bhubaneswar, Jun 18 (PTI) Priests, police personnel And government officials who are set to take part in the annual Rath Yatra activities will have to undergo RT-PCR tests at least four times amid the festivities, in an effort to minimise the chances of COVID-19 spread.

A meeting, chaired by Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Dr Krishan Kumar, was held in Puri, following which all stakeholders arrived at the decision that frequent tests would ensure the safety of everyone making arrangements for the July 12 Rath Yatra which involves preparations and rituals that last for over a month, an official said on Friday.

Among others, Puri district magistrate-cum-collector Samarth Verma also attended the meeting. Devotees have been barred from attending the religious carnival for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.

According to Kumar, the first test would be conducted before Snana Yatra (bathing festival) on June 24, the second prior to Gundicha Yatra on July 12, the third before Bahuda Yatra (return car festival) on July 20.

The fourth test will be carried out 15 days after Niladri Bije (the Lord’s entry into temple after festival) on July 23, he explained.
Kumar further said that the SJTA will ensure that all servitors taking part in the preparations have received both the doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

“A detailed micro-plan will be in place for setting up special medical centres during Rath Yatra. A nodal officer will be appointed by the SJTA, Puri administration and the Chief District Medical Officer (CDMO) for close coordination among them on a day-to-day basis,” he explained.
This apart, adequate number of masks and sanitiser bottles will be distributed among the servitors and their families, the SJTA chief said.

A handout explaining the guidelines that need to be followed to maintain hygiene will be given to all servitors and officials concerned, he said..

“All will be requested to ensure complete compliance to directions of the Special Relief Commissioner in regard to COVID-19 management,” Kumar added.

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