Health Guidelines for Elections – Part 2 | Daily News


Health Guidelines for Elections – Part 2

EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya oversees arrangements at a mock poll held recently.
EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya oversees arrangements at a mock poll held recently.

The Health and Indigenous Medical Services Ministry has issued the health guidelines for conducting the elections amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The purpose of these guidelines is to indicate the special health measures to be adopted during any election, to protect the public, election staff and other persons involved in election from possible COVID -19 infection.

Continuing from yesterday…

2.10 Conducting election at quarantine centers

The procedure for conducting the election is as same as the procedure that should be followed in polling booths (Section 2.9) with following additional measures.

All officers shall wear the full protective PPE (surgical mask, gloves, face shields, full body cover and boots) before entering the election hall and remove it only after the session is over.

Agents shall wear face shields in addition to the face mask and keep two-meter distance with voters instead of one meter.

All sides of the ballot box shall be sanitized after the session and then sealed and put in a polythene bag.

2.11 Receiving ballot boxes at counting centers

2.11.1 Select and arrange the venue in such a way to maintain one-meter distance between every person. It is recommended to rent out a spacious hall so that recommended health measures could be easily implemented.

2.11.2 Limit the number of officers at any time within the area to maintain distancing.

2.11.3 Keep space to maintain one-meter distance between officers waiting for handing over ballot boxes.

2.11.4 Provide hand washing/sanitizing facilities at the entrance to the center and each person entering should wash/sanitize their hands.

2.11.5 Remove the wrapping of the ballot box just before entering the receiving center. Separate waste bin shall be provided to discard the polythene.

2.12 Counting center etiquette

2.12.1 All staff and everyone entering shall wear masks.

Health guidelines will be shown outside polling stations.

2.12.2 All staff and everyone entering the hall shall be checked for body temperature and anyone having temperature above 37 degree Celcius or 98.40 Farenheit shall not be allowed inside.

2.12.3 Select and arrange the venue in such a way to maintain one-meter distance between counting staff and also between counting agents.

2.12.4 Ventilation of the counting center shall be improved with exhaust fans if possible.

2.12.5 Separate the area of counting agents with desks placed one meter behind the counting officers in order to avoid close contact.

2.12.6 Provide hand washing/hand sanitizing facilities at the entrance with tissues for wiping hands and a bin (with a polythene bag inside) to discard tissues.

2.12.7 Provide and ensure all officers, agents, security personnel and any other person wear masks and wash their hands before entering the counting center.

2.12.8 Provide adequate amounts of masks and one bottle of hand sanitizer for each counting officer. They shall sanitize hands as frequently as possible.

2.12.9 No one should be allowed to enter the counting center without a face mask and washing hands.

2.12.10 Do not serve refreshments in the counting room while the counting is going on.

2.12.11 Refreshments to be provided preferably in a place with good ventilation and space adequate to maintain physical distancing.

2.12.12 Unauthorized officials including officers from other centers shall not be allowed into the center at any time.

2.12.13 MOH staff shall sanitize the center after the work is over.

2.13 Results tabulation center

2.13.1 Everyone entering the premises shall wash hands with soap and water or sanitize hands.

Inside a counting centre in South Korea where health guidelines were followed.
Social distancing, a must at all stages in the poll.
Polls will be held at quarantine centres too.

2.13.2 All officers shall wear masks at all times.

2.13.3 All officers shall keep a distance of one meter with other fellow officers at all times.

2.14 Transport of staff and materials

Following measures apply to transport of officers, ballot boxes and any other persons or materials.

2.14.1 Vehicles should be cleaned and disinfected (the seats, all handles, interior door panel, windows, locks, exterior door handles and poles etc.) before the beginning of the trip to prevent possible cross contamination.

2.14.2 There shall be a hand sanitizer at the entrance to the vehicle and every passenger be advised to sanitize hands before entering the vehicle.

2.14.3 Everyone travelling must wear masks during the journey.

2.15 Canteen or meal areas

2.15.1 Meal breaks and tea breaks to be given in a batch-wise manner to prevent over-crowding in the canteen/meal room.

2.15.2 Ensure everyone wear masks inside the canteen/meal room except while eating.

2.15.3 The minimum distance of one meter is to be maintained among persons in the canteen/meal room and the furniture should be arranged to encourage this.

2.15.4 Avoid sharing food, glasses, plates and other utensils during meals.

2.15.5 Meals/food/ beverages served in buffet style must be served by dedicated person(s). Self-servicing should not be allowed as it leads to cross contamination.

3. Special instructions for police officers

Police officers are deployed for various election settings. Following health measures are issued for strict compliance in all such settings.

3.1 Police officers shall wear face masks at all times.

3.2 They should either wash their hands or sanitize them before entering to any election setting (polling booth and counting centers etc.)

3.3 They shall be provided with individual hand sanitizers.

3.4 Those who are attending the duties at quarantine centers be provided with full protective equipment.

3.5 Individual officers shall always keep the distance of one meter between them.

3.6 If an officer happened to touch individuals (as in protests) wash the hands thoroughly with soap and water. If the situation is known in advance wear face shields before attending to such duties.

4. Disinfection

4.1 Procedure for disinfecting surfaces

4.1.1 Disinfection of various surfaces is required to ensure the safety of staff and voters.

4.1.2 Following simple procedures shall be adopted for such disinfection and shall be carried out by the election staff.

4.1.3 After general cleaning or dusting,

All metal surfaces shall be disinfected with minimum of 70 percent v/v alcohol solution.

All non-metal surfaces must be disinfected with 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite solution.

Procedure for preparation of 70 percent v/v solution and 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite solution is attached to this document.

4.2 Procedure for disinfecting buildings

4.2.1 This procedure shall be carried out by the Public Health Inspector (PHI) with his team in accordance with this guideline under the supervision of the Medical Officer of Health.

4.2.2 After sweeping the floor, general cleaning or dusting and removing all persons from the building,

0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite solution shall be sprayed to all walls inside and outside the building up to six feet from the ground level.

All furniture shall also be sprayed using the same solution.

An example of social distancing inside a polling station in South Korea.

5. Waste Disposal

5.1 Following procedure shall be adopted for waste disposal in any election setting.

Collect all biodegradable and non-bio degradable wastes in separate bins lined with polythene waste bags and

Incinerate them in the nearest health care facility or

Inform the local authority to dispose them properly or,

Spray one percent Hypochlorite solution over it and bury them in the same premises.

5.2 The PHI needs to ensure proper management of waste in election settings. This has to be done by the area PHI when he comes for the disinfection of the center after the session.

6. After the election

For all election officers, agents and other staff:

What needs to be done on returning home from election duty -

Upon returning home, before entering the house,

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Remove the clothing and shoes/slippers and leave them outside, and wash them before taking inside or wearing them again.

Leave all your belongings outside. If any item is taken inside the house, either wash it with soap and water or disinfect with alcohol sanitizer. (This applies to your mobile phone, spectacles, wrist-watch etc.)

Go to the bathroom without touching anything inside the house and take a bath.

These measures should be properly implemented to achieve full compliance with health guidelines and ensure a successful election.

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