New Delhi: At a time when the coronavirus cases have gone up to 40 in the country, the Kerala government on Sunday issued fresh guidelines after deciding to hold the ‘Attukal Pongala,’ one of the largest all-women religious congregations on Monday. The keral government issued fresh guidelines after five fresh positive coronavirus cases were reported in the state earlier in the day. Also Read - Thousands take part in all-women Attukal Pongala festival

Holding a press conference, Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said that since months of preparations have gone in for the famous festival, it has been decided to go ahead with the festival. Also Read - Thiruvananthapuram gears up for much awaited Attukal Pongala

In the wake of the coronavirus scare, the health authorities in Kerala have issued strict instructions saying those who are having cold, fever or showing any symptoms of the virus, should offer ‘pongala’ only in front of their homes and avoid crowded places. Also Read - Attukal Pongala 2016: Over four million women expected to offer prayers

Ahead of the festival, the health minister also visited the Attukal temple complex to supervise the preparations.

Thiruvananthapuram district Collector K Gopalakrishnan told news agency PTI that a number of foreigners also participate in the pongala ritual and special arrangements have been made for them as well to make the offering in their hotel itself.

“The Pongala festival cannot be avoided. Those who have come from the virus-affected nations should offer pongala at their homes, instead of joining people in the ritual at temples,” the collector said.

As part of the precautionary measure, the state administration stated that 23 teams will be kept ready at various places during the pongala celebrations with 12 ambulances.

The teams will help in tracing people who are infected with fever and cold and those who have come from affected countries.

The ‘Attukal Pongala, will witness thousands of women from all over the state congregating in the state capital to prepare ‘pongala’ (sweet offering) as part of the annual festival of the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple.

(With inputs from PTI)