The Tamil Nadu government's Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) Department on Sunday, December 12, withdrew its order mandating two doses of inoculation against COVID-19 for devotees entering the Meenakshi Sundareswar temple in Madurai and Sri Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameswaram.
In a statement to IANS, HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu said: "Madurai Meenakshi Sunndareswar temple and Sri Ramanathaswamy temple have taken all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and hence the order mandating vaccination is withdrawn."
The order was withdrawn on Sunday evening as several organisations had come out against the order, which was issued on Saturday, December 11. According to the order, starting from December 13, only pilgrims with copies of their vaccination certificate would be allowed entry to the two shrines. The state government said that the measure was taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 and the possibility of a third wave.
The order also said that more than 50,000 people visit the two temples per day, hence it was required for the devotees to produce their vaccination certificate. In Rameswaram, huge boards were erected on roadsides citing the necessity of vaccination and had also mentioned that those without vaccine certificates would be denied entry. Vaccine shots were kept ready at the local primary health centres to inoculate the devotees.
On Sunday, December 12, recoveries outnumbered new cases with 708 people getting discharged in the latest 24-hour period, aggregating the total case tally to 26.91 lakh leaving 7,723 active infections, a daily bulletin said. A total of 1.01 lakh samples were tested in the latest 24-hour period, pushing the cumulative number of samples examined to 5.54 crore.
Chennai and Coimbatore accounted for the majority of new infections with 116 and 102 respectively, while the remaining was spread across other districts. As many as 22 districts reported less than 10 COVID-19 infections. Ramanathapuram and Tenkasi recorded zero cases, the bulletin added.
With IANS and PTI inputs