The Lord Venkateshwara Temple in Tirumala has been making the news, after reopening for devotees, with employees in multiple departments testing positive for COVID-19. In the latest, former high priest of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, Srinivasa Murthy Deekshitulu succumbed to the virus. The priest was 73 years old, and had served TTD as a priest for over three decades. He breathed his last at Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) in Tirumala. As per reports, Srinivasa Deekshitulu had other co-morbidities.
As per latest reports, nearly 170 TTD employees including Srinivasa Mangapuram temple’s superintendent, employees at Padmavathi temple and prasadam department have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. While test samples have collected for the rest, their results are awaited.
The TTD authorities had previously written to the state government to stall incoming devotees with the rising COVID-19 cases. While parts of the temple have already been shut for devotees, there is no official statement issued by the authorities stating that complete operations at TTD would be shut down temporarily. The Lord Venkateshwara Temple re-opened for devotees in June this year, after being shut temporarily for 80 days due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Meanwhile. the COVID pandemic has even affected operations at India’s rocket launching station in Sriharikota. With staffers at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR) testing positive for the virus, authorities have decided to stall operations at the station and impose a lockdown for curbing its spread. As per reports, the space station was operating with 30 percent of its total staff during the country-wide lockdown. Post Unlock 1.0, the staff strength was increased to 40 percent. However, some of the family members of the space station employees, residing at ISRO’s housing colonies at Swarnamukhi Nagar in Sullurpeta tested positive for COVID-19 during this period.
As per a circular released by the SDSC-SHAR authorities, all operations at the space station have been shut, and will be resumed after the COVID case count falls back to zero. During this time period, the space station will be under lockdown, with only computer monitoring systems, emergency systems and patrolling system employees working to ensure safety and security.