Ministry of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

The health protocols for the upcoming general election will be similar to the pre-COVID-19 guidelines according to the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram.

On Friday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that the general election would be held on August 10.

“I think that the electoral process in the past would have lent itself to some of the public health measures we already have in place. We have been working with the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to ensure that they are aware of the guidelines that should be put in place,” Parasram said at the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference on Saturday.

On Friday, Parasram shared a final draft of a guideline which he said they want to publish for the election process so that it could be used in the polling station on election day. He said the key practices on election day should be social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitisation.

Also, next Tuesday there will be a mock polling station set up by the EBC where the Ministry of Health will be a partner to ensure that the guidelines are rolled out in the right way. They will then publish the guidelines for the population.

For those who are quarantined, the ballots will be taken to them and after it would be sanitised before being returned to the EBC.

Speaking on the topic of election campaigning, Parasram said as of now the regulations state that crowds should be no bigger than 25 people.

“In the coming months, I don’t think the decision will be based on having a political rally, the decision will be made based on the status of the health of the population in terms of the epidemiology of the disease if we go to 50. That decision will come in the coming weeks. We have seen the impact of people congregating in other parts of the world with the escalation of the epidemic occurring days later. We are very cautious.”

Parasram gave the latest update on COVID-19 pandemic which shows that the number of tests done in the public sector is 5,401, the total number of community tests done so far has been 1,931. The total number of positive cases are still 130 and the number of deaths remains at eight. 498 people are in quarantine at the moment in the country.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who also spoke at the virtual press conference said the next phase of reopening of the country would be the schools in September. He said if the Government gives in to pressures from those who are asking for the borders to be reopened, among other requests, this will lead to community spread and it could have negative consequences for the reopening of schools.

He referred to a World Health Organization (WHO) released on Friday which stated that countries globally are not experiencing a second or third wave but they are experiencing a second or third peak in the first wave. Right now there are just over 11 million cases worldwide and the WHO is predicting a second wave.