The second case of COVID-19 in Andhra Pradesh was confirmed on Thursday.

COVID-19 Andhra govt closes Tirupati Tirumala temple to visitors till March 31IMAGE: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/NIKHIL B
Coronavirus Coronavirus Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 16:42

The Venkateswara temple in Tirumala will close till March 31 as part of the Andhra Pradesh government's precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus, Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Alla Nani) announced. The government has noted that cinema halls, malls, and major temples, mosques and churches will remain closed till March 31.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy held a review meeting with the health department on Thursday to discuss measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The meeting was held after the second positive case of coronavirus in the state came to light on Thursday morning. 

The second ghat road road to the temple, usually used by devotees, had already been entirely closed. From Thursday, the evening darshan will also be halted. However, pujas and other rituals usually offered at the temple will continue. From Friday, two ghat roads leading to the temple will be closed. 

Krishna Srinivas said that apart from Tirupati, the Mallikarjuna Temple in Srisailam, and the Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha temple in Simhachalam will also be closed. “Only the places of worship where thousands of people gather every day will be closed. The Endowments Department has been asked for a list of such places,” he said. 

Andhra's second case of COVID-19 was confirmed on Thursday. The first individual, in Nellore, had recent travel history from Italy, while the second person had recently returned to Ongole from London.

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As on Thursday evening, four deaths were reported in India due to the COVID-19 disease, nearly 170 people had tested positive for coronavirus across India, of which 149 were active cases. In Andhra Pradesh, around 22 people have been placed under observation at hospitals, while over 600 others have been directed to stay in isolation at home.

On Wednesday, the state government had announced the closure of all educational institutions in the state. 

The Health Minister also announced advisories for restaurants, bars and other such establishments, like maintaining sufficient distance between tables, maintaining hygiene and making sanitisers available. He also requested people to postpone any scheduled weddings, or avoid large gatherings if weddings are to be held. The Transport Department has also been advised to avoid overcrowding of passengers. 

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On Wednesday, the TTD had said that it would close down the gates of Swamy Pushkarini in Tirumala, where several devotees take a ‘holy dip’. The decision was taken as a measure to check the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). 

Earlier this month, the TTD had issued an advisory asking foreigners, Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and others who landed in the country from outside, not to visit the temple for 28 days, as a precautionary measure. 

Those showing symptoms of coronavirus like cough and fever were also advised against visiting the temple town. 

From March 17, the TTD had introduced time-slot tokens for darshan. The board said that devotees would not be allowed to sit in the compartments of queue complexes to avoid person-to-person contact, the TTD said.

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