Andhra Pradesh

Tirupati ‘on the edge’ ahead of Sankranti, Vaikunta Ekadasi

The Tirupati temple city, however, is on the edge with the likely arrival of devotees from across the country for the auspicious ‘Vaikunta Ekadasi’ festival slated for January 13. Photo: Special Arrangement

The Tirupati temple city, however, is on the edge with the likely arrival of devotees from across the country for the auspicious ‘Vaikunta Ekadasi’ festival slated for January 13. Photo: Special Arrangement

The slow and steady increase in COVID-19 positive cases, if not the Omicron variant, over the past few days has shaken Chittoor district, which is otherwise comfortably positioned vis-a-vis the virus spread.

The temple city, however, is on the edge with the likely arrival of devotees from across the country for the auspicious ‘Vaikunta Ekadasi’ festival slated for January 13. The TTD’s proposal to keep the embers of Vaikunta Ekadasi fervour burning by keeping the sacred threshold open for 10 days invites more trouble as the event is expected to attract a crowd of four to five lakh devotees, as per a modest estimate.

Already, the city was abuzz last week with nearly 1,000 outsiders in the form of Kabaddi players and allied staff arriving to participate in the All India Invitation Kabaddi Tournament for Men and Women, not to mention the sports enthusiasts congregating in thousands.

Preparations on

Ahead of the impending third wave, Chittoor Collector M. Hari Narayanan instructed the reopening of Padmavati Nilayam COVID Care Centre in Tiruchanur and identification of isolation centres in villages. “A command control centre will be opened to monitor the cases,” he says.

The new variant has stirred a debate in the global medical fraternity, resulting in mixed response over its virulence. “There may be too few ‘critically ill’ Omicron cases as of now, but the timeline of observation is too short to assume its behaviour. In Februray-April 2020, many were skeptical about COVID-19 and some brushed it aside as a hoax, but then the floodgates opened,” points out Alladi Mohan, dean and head of State COVID-19 Hospital at SVIMS.

A virus needs to adapt itself for long-term sustenance and Omicron is said to be ‘still evolving’. “At present, getting vaccinated and wearing a mask are the only way to stay alive,” Dr. Mohan remarks.

Meanwhile, SVR Ruia Hospital has been announcing ‘zero discharges’ for a week, indicating ‘all is well’.

Many have a scheduled travel to Tirupati in view of the year-end holidays. South Central Railway is running special trains for Sankranti, many of them linked to Tirupati. “The Centre’s Covid-19 protocol remains the same and we have not received any revised guidelines with respect to Omicron. We will implement as and when we get the official communique,” says Tirupati railway station director K. Satyanarayana. COVID spread has cast a shadow on the railways, as some staff members in frontline services, who are directly exposed to the visiting passengers, have tested positive.

Similarly, the State Public Transport Department (APSRTC) is not likely to revert to the ‘alternate seating’ system, which was in vogue during the earlier waves to ensure physical distancing. “There is no such proposal in view of the Omicron variant and our fleet will run in the usual format. However, wearing mask is compulsory for all passengers,” says regional manager (Tirupati) T. Chengal Reddy.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 26, 2022 7:37:54 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/tirupati-on-the-edge-ahead-of-festival/article38228963.ece