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Friday, January 31, 2020

Don't fret over virus, Thaipusam is on - Batu Caves temple committee

The Batu Caves temple committee will hold Thaipusam celebration as planned despite the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s declaration of the novel coronavirus outbreak as a global emergency.
At a press conference today, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple Devasthanam chairperson R Nadarajah (above) said the committee has yet to receive any advice from the government on whether the Thaipusam celebration should be suspended.
"I am still waiting for what sort of advice they are going to give us to oversee the (Thaipusam) gathering.
"But this is a religious festival to be attended by so many people. The police cannot say, 'You all cannot come'," he said.

He expects many tourists from China to visit Batu Caves but emphasised that it is not for the temple committee to stop them from attending the Thaipusam celebration.
The matter is in the hands of the Health Ministry and the government, said Nadarajah.
On Jan 29, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was quoted by Free Malaysia Today as saying that the government would take the lead from WHO as to whether to suspend mass gatherings, such as the Thaipusam celebration, in light of the virus outbreak.
WHO only declared the virus outbreak as a global disaster yesterday.
Nadarajah added that the temple committee planned to purchase surgical masks to provide to the devotees.
However, he said the temple committee was quoted the price of RM5 per mask and the suppliers said it was not possible for them to supply 1.5 million masks to the temple.
He said six government hospitals agreed to deploy a total of 1,800 medical personnel, including doctors, at Batu Caves and a quarantine centre will be set up there.
Meanwhile, Nadarajah said he expected more than 100,000 devotees to join the Thaipusam chariot procession, which will start from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple at Jalan Tun HS Lee on Feb 6 and arrive at Batu Caves the following day.
Nadarajah said he expected 1.5 million visitors and devotees to turn up at Batu Caves from Feb 6 to Feb 8 and said he personally does not foresee the virus outbreak to affect the turnout.
"There will be no changes (in crowd size). They are praying for their lives, why must they be scared?" asked Nadarajah.
"The Lord Murugan (statue) there (photo) will take care of the situation. Why are you all worried? Don't worry.
"The Lord is standing 40 metres tall and can see who is the virus (carrier) and who is well. The temple will perform a special prayer to prevent the people from contracting coronavirus," said Nadarajah.
He also said that the temple committee will lodge reports against the netizens who spread fake news and those who urged people not to attend the Thaipusam celebration.
Meanwhile, Gombak district police chief ACP Arifai Tarawe, who also attended the press conference, said the police has not received any instruction to suspend the Thaipusam celebration.
He said the police and traffic police officers deployed at Batu Caves will be wearing protective masks.
Several roads to Batu Caves will be closed and the police will only allow vehicles to be parked on the first lane of the 1.5-kilometre stretch of MRR2 near Batu Caves.
He said drones which fly without the permission of the Civil Aviation Authority (DCA) in the area will be taken down. - Mkini

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