Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday advised close contacts of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 to stay at home and refrain from going out during the May 9 elections.
Duque, when asked in a Super Radyo dzBB interview if family members of a person who is a COVID-19 positive can still go out and vote on Election Day, said, “No. If someone is isolated, they should stay where they are because that is included in our Disease Notifiable Act of 2021 or Republic Act Number 11332.”
“If you are sick or you are isolated, you have to stay indoors. You can’t go out and spread the virus. That is not correct from a public health point of view,” Duque said in Filipino.
Duque said even family members of a COVID-19 positive should be assumed to have contracted the virus already since they live together and the Omicron variant is more transmissible compared to the Delta variant.
However, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that COVID-19 positives and even those who have COVID-19 symptoms on Election Day will be allowed to vote in isolation polling precincts.
“There is also a possibility that those who already tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to come out of their homes or isolation facilities. If that’s the case, we can’t do anything but allow them to vote,” Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said in a Balitanghali interview.
Duque said such matters will still be discussed with the Comelec for “fine-tuning” considering that it is the first time for the country to conduct an election during a pandemic.
The Comelec said on Monday that voters will not be made to present a COVID-19 vaccination card or a negative RT-PCR test result.
In a statement, the Comelec said registered voters who may show symptoms of COVID-19 on May 9 can still vote at isolation polling precincts.
Garcia said registered voters need to bring their face masks and alcohol. Wearing of face shields is not required in polling precincts.
The temperature of voters will be checked at the entrance of the school or poll precinct and if they exhibit symptoms or a high temperature, they will be directed to vote in an isolated polling precinct, he said.
He also advised voters to immediately go home after voting and no longer loiter around the polling place or schools as there are still risks of COVID-19 infections.
He said the poll body will still implement health protocol restrictions to avoid the spread of the virus.
The Department of Health (DOH) said Monday that there are six regions in the country that showed a positive growth rate in infections in the last one to two weeks.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a media briefing, said Region 4-B, Region 5, and Region 8 had a positive growth rate in the recent two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Region 2, and Region 7 had a one-week positive growth rate.
Vergeire also said the national intensive care unit (ICU) admissions also slightly increased but it remains at “low risk” at 16 percent utilization rate.
The national health admissions is also plateauing as it slightly decreased by 2.8 percent compared to the previous week, she added.
“Overall, the national positivity rate is still at a slow decline at 1.2 percent from 1.3 percent from last week,” she said.
The Philippines remains at a “minimal risk” classification for COVID-19, she said.