Wearing masks was made mandatory for devotees coming to see the annual Rath Yatra festival in Puri on July 1 amid rising COVID-19 cases in Odisha, a senior official said on Monday.

Around 10 lakh people are expected to gather for the festival in the temple town from across the country, and some foreign nations, Director of Health Service Bijay Mohapatra said.

The festival of Lord Jagannath this time will see the participation of devotees after two years. In 2020 and 2021, only servitors took part in rituals due to the pandemic.

"We are expecting a large congregation during the festival this year. Mask is mandatory in Puri during the festival. Health camps will be set up at the railway station, bus stand and Grand Road (Bada Danda)," Mohapatra said.

Asking people with symptoms to avoid visiting the town, he said caution should be maintained to check the spread of the virus.

The state government has set up Covid Care Centres in Puri, and arranged for oxygen and ICU beds to meet with any eventuality, officials said.

Odisha registered 69 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, taking the tally to 12,89,328.

There are 456 active cases in the state at present. In the last 24 hours, two coronavirus cases were found in Puri.

So far, 12,79,693 patients have recovered.

"We will soon increase testing to track infected people," Mohapatra said.