Kedarnath chief priest, health staff to be tested every 15 days for Covid-19

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With rising pilgrim traffic, the Rudraprayag district administration in Uttarakhand has now decided that the priests of Kedarnath shrine along with health, police and administration officials will be tested for Covid-19 every 15 days, official said Wednesday.

With relaxations under Unlock 5.0, the number of pilgrims visiting the Char Dham shrines has been increased to 3,000 per day.

Dr. BK Shukla, chief medical officer of Rudraprayag district said that everyone staying permanently at the Kedarnath shrine premises will be tested at regular intervals.

“As pilgrims coming to the shrine have increased in the past few days since the state government announced more relaxations, the risk has increased. Keeping that in mind, the district magistrate has instructed that the chief priest’s health will be checked twice daily and he will be tested every 15 days,” said the chief medical officer.

He added that all other priests will also be tested every 15 days on a rotational basis.

“We have already tested around 190 people and sufficient antigen test kits have been given already to the dispensary in the shrine premises. The health condition of all district officials is being monitored. The health status of the pilgrims is also being monitored at different points, district border and two points before entering the shrine,” said Dr. Shukla.

The district administration took the decision of regular testing after it received many complaints of pilgrims not wearing masks and violating social and physical distancing norms at Kedarnath shrine. The helipad near the shrine will also be sanitized on a daily basis.

Vinod Shukla, president of Kedarnath Tirtha Purohit Mahasabha, said, “Despite security personnel and all safety measures in place, many pilgrims are not wearing masks. We are also continuously monitoring the situation and ensuring that pilgrims follow all safety protocols, but with increased numbers, it is difficult to manage.”

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