Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has credited the efforts by health authorities to contain the outbreak for the lack of deaths and a small number of cases, noting in an interview to the Indian Express on Monday that part of the campaign was to spread awareness among the general public about the disease, which, at first glance, can be mistaken for an ordinary flu.

Now, Indian deities have joined into the effort as well.

“We have put a mask on Lord Vishwanath to raise awareness about coronavirus. Just like we put clothes on the idols when it is cold and put ACs or fans when it’s hot, we have put masks on the deities,” Krishna Anand Pandey, priest at the Varanasi temple said, as cited by ANI.

The worshippers are strongly discouraged against attempting to touch the idols to minimize the risk of catching the deadly virus, said Anand, who himself was reported wearing a mask during religious services.

It’s not uncommon for Varanasi idols to be covered with masks. As India was being battered by  the extreme air pollution last November, several deities in renown Shiv-Parvati temple, including Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali, were also sporting masks, with the priest explaining that the idols are being treated like “living” creatures.

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