December 4, 2022

MITIGATING COVID CASES DURING CAMPAIGN SORTIES

The surge in Covid-19 cases attributed mainly to the recent holidays should be a signal for the public, especially candidates, political parties, and supporters that as often repeated by health experts, gatherings, even when people are vaccinated and with masks, is a driver for the spread of the virus.
The Commission on Elections has released guidelines for campaigning while the country is still under critical risk for transmission brought about the mutation of the SARS-CoV2, but data shows that the relaxed compliance the health protocols were contributory in the sudden and exponential rise in cases.
The surge in cases, as per Department of Health advisories, is also attributed to the detection of the more transmissible Omicron variant.
We have prematurely downplayed the virus notwithstanding constant reminders that population protection or herd immunity cannot be achieved just yet as long as many remain unvaccinated and increased mobility comes into play.
Of late, we have heard of political aspirants, who are already on informal campaign sorties, or their staff members who contracted the Covid-19 infection probably because of their increased interaction with the public.
The guidelines of the Comelec are clear: that in cases where face-to-face campaign will be conducted, protocols on limiting the number of audience, adherence to minimum health protocols, and clearance from the host local governments are required.
On paper, the poll body is clear in its intent – that while the electoral process should proceed as mandated by law, the election period should not, as much as possible, become a major contributor in the transmission of the virus.
On the ground, we have yet to see how candidates will follow the Comelec guidelines given the propensity of candidates to give dole-outs during campaigns, which naturally becomes a magnet for people to congregate.
The electorate’s tendency to gravitate towards famous personalities just to get a glimpse of their favored candidates is also a concern that needs to be addressed if stakeholders are concerned about public welfare.
We have seen how supporters of two presidential aspirants gathered when they visited Baguio. Their camps may have tried to implement the minimum public health standards but both had shortcomings when it came to crowd control. While there was no reported transmission of cases brought about by these gatherings, it still must be stressed that as advised by experts, crowding must be avoided.
Likewise, the current cases should not be dismissed as a merely mild infection. Mild, moderate or severe, the point is there is transmission and the next one who might get infected could be you or someone you know. Not all have strong immune systems to fight infection.
In this light, we reiterate the DOH’s appeal that people who feel symptoms should not self-diagnose. The best determinant is to still have yourself tested using the polymerase chain reaction test. Without it, it cannot be confirmed if an individual has the virus.
Without confirmation, a probably infected person will go about his/her daily routine and might unknowingly spread the virus.
There are protocols in place. Let us adhere to it, so as not to infect others.
Our health system is already overwhelmed and we must do our part by taking care of one another by being responsible individuals and responsible citizens so that together, we can continue battling the virus and win with more lives saved in the end.

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