COVID-19 infected persons may vote in 2022

Published September 4, 2021, 3:06 PM

by Ben Rosario

The Commission on Elections will allow persons with fever to vote in the 2022 elections, thus, raising the possibility that voters suffering from COVID-19 will not be denied their right to suffrage.

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This was gathered from Comelec officials present during the recent hearing conducted by the Lower House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms.

Poll officials led by Chairman Sheriff Abas presented to the House panel the draft of the Comelec New Normal Manual that details the procedure or activities that will be observed during the 2022 elections.

The proposed manual provided the standard and protocols and the standard procedures to be observed on voting day.

Under the manual, all voters are requiredc to wear face masks andf ace shields at all times while inside the voting center and observe other minimum public health standards.

Mandatory temperature check will be conducted as voters enter the voting center.

“Voters whose temperature reads at 37.5 degrees Celsius shall proceed to be evaluated by the Medical Personnel. If evaluated to be with fever, voter may proceed to the IPP to vote,” the manual read.

IPPs or Isolation Polling Places are to be established in all polling centers and will be manned by Comelec-assigned medical personnel.

However, during the hearing poll official admitted that Comelec will be needing the help of barangay health workers to help man the IPPs. BHWs usually do not have enough medical care training.

A representative of the Philippine Medical Association proposed various measures that would prevent elections to be super spreader events.

The PMA agreed that voters should not be deprived their right to vote and that persons with symptoms of COVID-19 tob e “accommodated outside the polling precinct” to vote.

The doctors group said Comelec may consider allowing persons with symptoms to vote by mail, which is the same manner by which overseas Filipino workers vote.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, committee vice chairman, noted that there can be “legal obstacles” to the proposal.

In the same hearing, the PMA called on the Comelec to be extra careful in using ultra violet lights in disinfecting documents and other election paraphernalia.

Minority Leader and Abang Llingkod Partylist Rep. Stephen Paduano called on the Comelec to make sure that there will be disenfranchisement of voters even as safety protocols are being observed.

In response, Comelec Director Teofilo Elnas invited the House panel to observe the conduct of time and motion study that will help the poll body decide on measures that would prevent the spread of COViD 19 while Filipinos exercise their right to vote.

“Considering that we are in the pandemic situation, considering the number of voters to be allowed within the cluster, we have scheduled the conduct of simulation voting,” said Elnas.