Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar talks to the media during a motorcade in Pointe-a-Pierre yesterday.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar claims that COVID-19 fear-mongering is being used by health officials to keep voters away from the polls on Monday.

Persad-Bissessar made the claim before the start of a United National Congress (UNC) motorcade at South Park yesterday. While confident of victory at the polls, the former prime minister said she had several concerns about Election Day.

“I am very concerned about the fear-mongering that is going on with the COVID that may seek to suppress voters and therefore have some effect on the numbers that are coming out. I urge everyone to come out early, this is your democratic constitutional right to come out and vote.”

Persad-Bissessar said they have received reports from people that officials from the County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) are instructing people to stay home on Election Day.

“Indeed right now, even before Election Day, there are persons reporting that officials from the CMOH, the chief medical officer of health, some officials from there are telling people that they must stay home. They must quarantine themselves at home and therefore they cannot go out to vote.”

She said another concern is the length of time it would take voters to cast their votes on Monday.

“We have experiences already with the special voting that the delay was so long that they are looking to put another day for special voters from that category of voters to vote so I am concerned about the delays that may occur and I urge voters, therefore, to have the patience, to go out very early and cast their vote. She said another concern is about everyone dipping their finger in the same ink because of COVID.

Coming out of their discussions with the Election and Boundaries Commissioner, however, she said the EBC has put guidelines in place. “Before you come in the station you sanitise, before you vote you sanitise, then you put your finger in the ink then you sanitise again so that in that way there should not be that level of fear.” She said another concern is whether the compound of the voting stations would be able to accommodate everyone.

“The law is at 6 pm if you are inside the compound, even though 6 o’clock has come you can vote, but there may be some compound stations that are small and may not be able to accommodate all the persons who would be voting.” However, she said their team of attorneys and activists would be closely monitoring the activities on Election Day. Calls and Whatsapp messages to CMO Dr Rohan Parasram and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh were unanswered.