Health guidelines for safe polling

The Health Department has issued guidelines for the safe conduct of the local body elections which is taking place in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. It has appealed to the public to be mindful of all safety protocols despite the reduced threat perception of the disease.

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said though the number of new cases being reported daily had come down, there were many surveillance indicators which showed that there could be a resurgence of the infection in some parts of the State. Public health experts were also of the opinion that the case graph could spike again post elections.

However, if every individual were to take utmost care in maintaining all safety precautions, a surge in infections might be contained, she said.

People should wear a proper fitting mask, covering the nose and mouth, and it should not be removed at any time while they are out of the house. Children should not be taken along by adults when going out to vote.

Every voter should carry a pen for signing the register to avoid sharing. When talking to friends or others outside, mask should not be lowered. Anyone trying to converse without a mask should not be encouraged.

A physical distance of two metres or six feet should be maintained between two individuals while queuing at polling booths. There should not be any crowding at all. Shaking hands with people or any physical expressions of affection such as hugging should be avoided.

Voters should use sanitisers and disinfect hands while entering as wellas exiting the polling booths. There should be no more than three voters at the same time in one polling booth.

Doors and windows of polling booths should be kept open to ensure proper ventilation. Closed spaces can aid disease transmission and hence all election officials and polling agents should take extreme care to maintain physical distance.

The mask may be removed only for identifying an individual, while maintaining proper distance. There should be no conversation when the mask is off.

Voters should leave the polling booth premises as soon as they vote and ensure that they wash hands with soap and water as soon as they reach home. Political party workers in election committee offices should also maintain the health protocol.

Those who tested positive 10 days before the poll date till 3 p.m. on the previous day of the poll need not go to the polling booth to vote. They can do postal vote.

The public may clarify all doubts by reaching out to the Health Department’s helpline DISHA (1056).

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