Officials in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have razed a shrine dedicated to a coronavirus-inspired goddess, reportedly due to concerns about dubious claims of health benefits linked to the unorthodox religious site.

Constructed by residents of a village near the city of Pratapgarh, the temple was created so that devotees could seek the healing powers of “Mother Corona” as they battle the virus. 

“Villagers collectively set up the temple with the belief that praying to the deity would definitely offer respite to people suffering from Covid-19,” one local told Indian news agency ANI. 

The shrine is composed of a mask-clad statue set behind a yellow backdrop. Devotees brought yellow flowers as offerings to the goddess, but were not allowed to touch the statue, according to local media reports. 

Videos and photographs of people worshiping at the site spread across social media, apparently peeving authorities. 

According to the Times of India, police and regional officials dismantled the temple several days after it was unveiled in order to “discourage superstition” about the virus among villagers. 

Authorities have also launched a probe to investigate the circumstances surrounding the site’s construction. Police say that the site attracted hundreds of villagers who sought the deity’s healing powers and anti-virus protection. 

Several similar holy sites dedicated to warding off coronavirus have been reported across India. Last month, residents of the city of Coimbatore created a black stone idol used to seek protection from the virus. Villagers in the state of Karnataka also constructed a Covid-19 shrine, but the site was swiftly destroyed by authorities. 

‘Corona Devi’ deity consecrated in Coimbatore by the authorities of Kamatchipuri Adhinam to protect people from the pandemic virus.

India has been struggling to contain the virus after experiencing a surge of new cases and deaths linked to the disease. Since the start of the pandemic, the country has recorded more than 28 million infections linked to 370,000 deaths. However, the situation is showing signs of improvement, with daily cases dropping to levels not seen since early April. 

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