The Star Late Edition
Experts sound alarm over gatherings before elections
HEALTH experts have cautioned against large gatherings before the local government elections as the country braces for a possible third wave of coronavirus infections.
This year’s local government elections will take place in a different environment. The Covid-19 pandemic will put a limit on big political rallies that often accompany election season.
The presence of new Coronavirus variants, first identified in the UK and India, have raised concerns about a possible third wave of the pandemic.
South Africans head to the polls on October 27.
Wits Professor Shabir Madhi said mass gatherings would have an impact on the trajectory of the pandemic. He cautioned against big political events and said the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) should not allow any political indoor gatherings.
“Allowing for mass gatherings is what probably broke the camel’s back in India. This is something we should have learnt months ago. This data that mass gatherings are responsible for 80% of infections, has been available comes to campaigning. The president should actually take the stance that the ANC will not be engaging in any sort of mass gathering. Because that is exactly what is going to result in further flair-ups of Covid-19,” he said.
Dr Aslam Dasoo, from the Progressive Health Forum, shared similar remarks, warning that gatherings hadproven to be a health concern. He said a sensible approach was needed by the government.
“I think there needs to be a flexible and adaptable approach by the authorities and the president with respect to going ahead with the election while going through the surge. It is a very difficult situation and it needs a rational approach. All gatherings should be limited right now. That cannot be ignored by anyone,” Dasoo said.
The IEC said it was up to political parties to ensure Covid-19 health protocols were adhered to at political gatherings.
Under level 1, gatherings are limited to 250 for indoor and 500 for outdoor events.
The commission said its Covid19 protocol had been tested during by-elections.