Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 29) — COVID-19 patients must not go out of their homes or isolation facilities on May 9, but those who may be feeling symptoms with no confirmed positive result can still proceed to their polling places, the Commission on Elections clarified on Friday.
Speaking to CNN Philippines’ The Source, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said the poll body respects the guidelines of the Health Department and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to reduce COVID-19 infections on voting day.
“Under our strictest protocol, hindi sila makakalabas ng isolation facility or bahay nila kung saan naka-isolate (they cannot go out of their isolation facility or homes where they are isolating). Definitely the barangays, the LGUs will not allow them to get out,” he said.
However, he reasoned that not having a confirmed positive result despite having symptoms should not be a basis of depriving the electorate of their constitutional right to vote.
“Sa mga maaaring with symptoms but not yet positive, no findings yet, no RT-PCR or even an antigen test, we can’t do anything,” he said. “If they will be going to the precinct and there will be symptoms, nilalagnat sila, may ubo, o nag-e-LBM what can we do? We cannot drive them away at papapuwiin na lang sila.”
[Translation: Those with symptoms but not yet positive, or don’t have official findings, no RT-PCR or even an antigen test result, we can’t do anything. If they will be going to the precinct and there will be symptoms, they have a fever, cough, or experiencing loose bowl movement, what can we do? We cannot drive them away and simply tell them to go home.]
Garcia said voters will undergo temperature checks before entering their polling precincts.
Those who log a temperature of 37° and above will have to retake their reading, but they will eventually be bought to isolation polling precincts where they will be assisted by volunteers wearing personal protective equipment so they can still cast their votes, he said. Health protocols will be observed.
“We will allow them to vote,” he reiterated.
DOH: Symptomatics can’t risk going out
Health Usec. Rosario Vergeire told The Source on Thursday that even voters who are just experiencing COVID-19 symptoms even prior to election day must consult with their physicians or with their local government units and only go out when they have fully recovered to prevent an uptick in cases.
“Pagdating sa voting precincts, sinasabi ng Comelec na kung sakaling may pumunta at di mapigilan pagdating doon may isolation precinct naman sila,” Vergeire said. “But we still give it as an advisory to all our Filpino people sana po wag na tayo magpilit na pumunta sa vaccination site kung saka-sakaling may nararamdaman tayong sakit para di na tayo makapanghawa pa ng iba.”
[Translation: Comelec reasons that when voters get to the precincts and cannot be stopped there will be an isolation precinct anyway. But we still give it as an advisory to all our Filipino people, don’t insist on going out if you are already feeling sick so you won’t infect others.]