A total of 743 employees of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) have tested positive for COVID-19, and three have died from it since June 11.

According to a report in the New Indian Express, those who tested positive include priests at the Lord Venkateswara shrine in Thirumala. About 402 of the infected have recovered while 338 people are still undergoing treatment, a top official of the TTD told reporters.

The famous Ventakeswara temple was closed for more than two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown, but reopened for public on June 11 due to requests from devotees, and with stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singh lamented that although the move to reopen the temple was initially well received by everyone, the blame game started soon after cases of COVID-19 started to increase in Tirupati.

"We are spending more money on all facilities of COVID measures rather than what we are making out from pilgrims.

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

India remains on the third place in the countries worst hit by the pandemic, with more than 2.2 million infections and over 45,000 deaths.

Globally, the infection and death toll from the disease have surpassed 20.2 million and over 738,000, respectively.

Source: New Indian Express
Photo source: Deccan Herald