YV Subba Reddy, the Chairperson of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), has tested positive for coronavirus. Subba Reddy said that he got tested for the virus on Tuesday, as he had been suffering from fever. He has been admitted to a private hospital. Speaking to TNM, the TTD Chairperson said, "I was suffering from fever and hence decided to get tested. As soon as I tested positive, I got admitted (to a hospital). Day before yesterday I got admitted. It has been two days already, I should be fine in another two-three days."
Subba Reddy, a former Lok Sabha MP, is Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddyâ€™s maternal uncle. He was appointed as the chairperson of the TTD in June 2019, soon after the YSRCP government came to power. The TTD trust manages the finances and operations of the Tirumala Venkateswara temple.
Recently, Andhra Pradesh Endowments Minister Vellampalli Srinivas Rao had also tested positive for the coronavirus. The Minister had gotten tested after suffering mild symptoms, and officials said that his health condition was normal. He was admitted to the hospital as a precautionary measure.
In August, it was reported that a total of 743 TTD employees had contracted COVID-19, according to TTD officials. At least three employees have succumbed to the virus since June 11, when the Tirumala Venkateswara temple was opened to the public after remaining closed for nearly 80 days because of the lockdown.
On July 19, former TTD chief priest Srinivasa Dikshitulu passed away at 73, after testing positive for coronavirus. He had been admitted to the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) in Tirupati, where he breathed his last.
With rising COVID-19 cases among employees, demands had arisen to close the temple for the public from several quarters. TTD workersâ€™ unions, a senior police official and former chief priest Ramana Dikshitulu had all advised the TTD to close the Tirumala temple to the public. However, the TTD has continued to allow entry of devotees to the temple, which is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in the world. TTD officials have repeatedly claimed that visitors were safe from infection.
Earlier, the Former Executive Officer of TTD, AK Singhal had even denied accusations that the temple was being kept open to fill the TTDâ€™s coffers. â€śRight now, the cost of managing the temple is higher than the income we get from devotees. I want to clarify that we did not open the temple for income. Cases are increasing across the state, it is not just because the temple has been kept open, like the perception prevailing in social media,â€ť Singhal had told reporters.