Poll postponement ‘possible’ in areas with Covid surge

April 23, 2022 Lee Ann P. Ducusin 215 views

HEALTH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said it is possible to postpone elections in areas with a COVID-19 surge.

However, Duque said they will stick to the alert leveling system.

“That is always a possibility, but we will stick to our alert leveling system. Halimbawa kung Alert level 2 tayo yung mga public spaces yung mga lugar meron tayong limitasyon… ’yun lang papahitulutan,” he said.

Duque said the alert level will also depend on the three metric systems – increase in two-week growth rate, average daily attack rate, and health care utilization rate.

“Ngayon kung ang tanong possible ba magkaroon ng postponement, oo siyempre possible pa rin kung talagang masyadong mataas ang sipa ng mga kaso sa mga piling lugar,” he said.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner George Garcia said the postponement of Eleksyon 2022 may only happen in situations of terrorism, violence, destruction of election paraphernalia, and “force majeure” or unforeseen circumstances.

Garcia said that the Comelec would study if the spike in COVID-19 cases may be considered force majeure.

Duque advised voters who will have symptoms on election day to stay at home to prevent the spread of infection.

“Pag-uusapan ‘yan, meron pa tayong dalawang linggo at kalahati bago ang eleksyon so patuloy nakikipag-ugnayan ang DOH [Department of Health] at Comelec para linawin itong mga katanungan,” he said.

When asked if voters with symptoms should be allowed to vote, the health chief opined that they should not since it would go against the policy encouraging people with symptoms to isolate themselves.

“Ako sa tingin ko diyan dapat hindi, dahil ang laging sinasabi natin ang policy natin to isolate kung mayroon kang symptoms, so salungat yan sa ating policy kung sa tingin natin na kahit may mga symptoms puwedeng bumoto. Pero siyempre may mga tao naman na doon na lang habang nag-aantay biglang may mararamdaman na sintomas,” he said.

Duque said that those with symptoms should be isolated and coordinated with their respective local government units (LGUs) for proper protocols.

He clarified that another surge in COVID-19 infections by mid-May was based on the experts’ projections.

The DOH earlier warned the public that the country might experience another surge in May, with Metro Manila possibly recording as many as almost half a million active cases if the minimum public health standards are ignored.

“Ang sinasabi lang nila simple, kung babalewalain natin ‘yung minimum health standards by 50%, ibig sabihin posibleng magkaroon ng active cases na abot 500,000 by end of May. Kung 30% reduction compliance, 300,000 by end of May,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, the DOH on Friday logged 230 new COVID-19 cases, raising the nationwide tally to 3,684,094.

According to the DOH’s latest data posted on its website, the new cases brought the country’s active case count to 15,782, down from 16,771 on Thursday.

The previous lowest active COVID-19 tally reported was 14,233 recorded on December 31.

The top regions with cases in the last two weeks were the National Capital Region (NCR) with 1,137, followed by Region 4-A with 469 and Region 3 with 316.

Total recoveries increased to 3,608,194, while new fatalities pushed the death toll to 60,118.

A total of 20,055 individuals were tested on Thursday, with 311 testing laboratories having submitted data.