DOH wants COVID-19 security guards at polling places

MANILA, Philippines – Security guards, whose duty it is to ensure strict enforcement of COVID-19 health protocols, are to be assigned to polling centers on Election Day, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday. .

Undersecretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH made the recommendation to the Elections Commission (Comelec) because it blamed violations of minimum public health standards for the growth in COVID-19 infections this week. last in some areas.

Speaking at the forum titled ‘COVID-Proofing the 2022 Elections’, Vergeire said: “The challenge would really be for people to flock to the voting centers (on election day). That’s the main challenge.

She said among the DOH’s recommendations to Comelec is the need to impose a time limit on each voter to vote so voters don’t stay too long at polling stations.

Vergeire added that Comelec should have a referral system with local government units and relevant hospitals for voters who will arrive at polling centers with symptoms of COVID-19.

Under existing Comelec protocols, all voters will undergo medical screening and temperature checks before entering polling centers on May 9.

People showing symptoms will be directed to the isolation polling station where they will vote, after which they will be released from isolation.

Vergeire stressed that these voters should be isolated and tested and will need to be properly managed if they test positive for COVID-19.

Despite an estimated 500,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) by mid-May, the DOH sees no need to adjust security protocols for state and local elections.

“All of our protocols are already in place,” Vergeire said. “What is most critical right now is that we apply this correctly and that people practice these standards. We will not change our protocols that have been there, institutionalized.

Local experts have predicted there could be some 500,000 active cases of COVID-19 in the NCR if MPHS compliance drops by 50%.

It has also been predicted that reduced compliance with MPHS – particularly social distancing and masking – could result in the NCR seeing around 60,000 new cases a day by mid-May.

Although the screening is “not cast in stone,” Vergeire warned that the likelihood of it happening is high due to widespread violations of the MPHS that have been seen during Holy Week and on campaign outings.

Rate of growth

While all localities in the NCR are still classified as minimal risk for COVID-19 infections, seven areas have begun to show a week-over-week growth rate in cases, the DOH said.

The seven areas registering a “positive” one-week growth rate during the period from April 12 to 18 are Pateros and the cities of Parañaque, Taguig, Las Piñas, Navotas, Muntinlupa and Marikina.

Vergeire noted that all areas of the NCR have “low risk health system capacity”, except for the cities of Valenzuela and Pasig, which showed an intensive care utilization rate of 71.43% and 50%, respectively.

By region, five regions that also saw a positive seven-day rolling growth rate are Regions 1 (Ilocos), 5 (Bicol), 12 (Soccsksargen), 13 (Caraga) and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The official, however, stressed that overall COVID-19 cases continue to “continue to drop”.

The data showed that the Philippines recorded a seven-day negative growth rate of 17% during this period. His ICU utilization rate is low risk at 16.78%.


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Susan W. Lloyd