“This is above politics as people’s lives and welfare assume top priority on such occasions,” he said. Referring to the double mutant strain recently discovered in India, he said it was a warning, as it is not yet known how and whether the new strain reacted to the vaccine.
When asked, Vellore Collector A Shanmuga Sundaram said the district administration has made arrangements for all voters to be provided masks if they come to polling booths without it. All voters’ hands would be sanitised before and after casting votes, he added. Health officials said all booths would be provided with thermal scanners to record voters’ temperature while all poll officials would wear face shields in addition to masks. However, Dr John termed these measures as mere tokenism, pointing out that no candidate or cadre wear masks when campaigning, and social distancing norms were given a go by when top leaders come. “Unless the government acts now, it may be too late because the virus could multiply many times by the time the electoral process is over,” he said.
Noting the evident reluctance on the part of the government to enforce the norms, he warned, “Unless government steps in, public will act like little children playing truant. Only if anti-COVID measures are enforced will it herald a sense of safety in polling stations.” The only silver lining is that all the officials on election duty were being vaccinated, he said. “But with mutations increasing, we are yet to know if such new variations can escape the present vaccine strategy,” Dr John added.