COVID-19 patients under isolation won't be able to vote

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
COVID-19 patients under isolation won't be able to vote
San Juan City residents take part in a voting simulation at the San Juan Elementary School yesterday. The Comelec exercise aims to test the efficiency of the process and the implementation of basic health protocols.
Krizjohn Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — COVID-19 patients who are isolating at their homes or in facilities would not be able to vote on election day as local government units will not allow them to break their isolation, Commission on Elections Commissioner George Garcia said Friday.

“Under Republic Act No. 11332 and at the same time IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) guidelines and resolutions, then dapat mag-isolate po kasi yung COVID-positive patients,” Garcia told CNN Philippines’ “The Source.” “Definitely, the LGU (local government unit), more specifically the barangays won’t allow them to vote.”

(Under Republic Act No. 11332 and at the same time IATF guidelines and resolutions, COVID-positive patients must isolate … Definitely, the LGU, more specifically the barangays won’t allow them to vote.)

“In that case, we have to respect the IATF guidelines and resolution as well as the DOH (Department of Health) instruction on this matter because these are COVID-19 positive patients,” he continued.

The DOH said in a statement that it “would not stop” anyone from voting, but reminded that COVID-19 patients have to follow quarantine guidelines.

"Individuals who are positive with COVID-19 should strongly refrain from going outside and remain in isolation while recovering, as required in DOH Department Memorandum 2022-0013," it said.

As early as September 2021, the Comelec said it will not allow those with COVID-19 to vote, given the risks it poses to patients and the public.

The DOH had suggested to the poll body to explore alternatives to voting, but the Comelec said these cannot be pursued as these are not authorized by law.

While COVID-19 patients would not be able to vote, those coming to polling places with symptoms of the disease but without a positive test result would be allowed to cast their ballots.

“We cannot drive them away at papauwiin na lang sila. We will allow them to vote,” Garcia said.

(We cannot drive them away and make them go home. We will allow them to vote.)

He explained that people with coughs, colds, fever or other COVID-19 symptoms would be able to vote in isolation polling precincts which will be manned by election workers in personal protective equipment.

The Philippines will hold its elections on May 9 under the looming threat of the BA.2.12 subvariant of Omicron, which the DOH said is 2.5 times more infectious than the original and is feared to cause a spike in infections in the country that is only 61% fully-vaccinated and only 11% boosted.





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