The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, will not shut down despite 140 of its employees testing positive for the coronavirus, chairperson of the shrine’s board said on Friday, NDTV reported. There were no plans to stop public darshan at the temple, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board Chairperson YV Subba Reddy said. He claimed that there was no evidence that devotees have been getting infected.

“Senior priests will not be put on duty,” Reddy said. “Priests and employees have requested separate accommodation.” A separate facility for cooking for the employees will be set up, he added.

Reddy had said on Thursday that 14 “archakas” (assistant priests), 16 workers in laddu-making kitchens and 56 security personnel were among those infected, Deccan Chronicle reported. He added that 70 of the infected had been discharged and the rest were undergoing treatment. Less than 12,000 devotees will be allowed to enter the temple daily, he said.

The honorary chief priest, Ramana Dikshitulu, had on Thursday expressed concern about the positive cases and appealed to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy to stop the darshan. But YV Subba Reddy said Dikshitulu should have raised his concerns before the board instead of tweeting about them.

The Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple reopened on June 11 after being shut for two-and-a-half months due to a nationwide lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. India on Friday crossed the 10-lakh cases mark, registering an all-time high growth of 34,956 new coronavirus cases and 687 deaths, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The toll is now 25,602.

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