Candidates must show negative COVID-19 report to enter counting centers
The Election Commission of India today made it mandatory for poll candidates to show a negative COVID-19 test report or a report proving full vaccination to be allowed inside vote counting centers. The decision has been taken in view of the worsening COVID-19 situation in India. Election results for five states and Union Territories will be declared on May 2. Here are more details.
Vaccination certificates received 48 hours before can be used
The election body said that candidates and their agents will be allowed inside a counting center only after producing a negative RT-PCR test report or a Rapid Antigen test report that should not be more than 48 hours old. They can also show their vaccination certificates received at least 48 hours before the start of the counting process to get entry, the EC said.
It takes 2 weeks to develop immunity after vaccination: Experts
However, experts suggest that it typically takes two weeks after vaccination for a human body to develop enough antibodies or protection against the coronavirus. Further, in several cases, RT-PCR as well as Antigen test reports have proved to be faulty.
Yesterday, EC announced ban on victory processions
Election candidates will also have to provide a list of counting agents three days prior to the counting day. The poll body has also put a ban on public gatherings outside counting centers on May 2. On Tuesday, the Election Commission had announced a ban on all victory processions by political parties or candidates on the day of results.
Polls were held in 4 states and 1 UT
State Assembly elections were held in four states - Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Assam - and the Union Territory of Puducherry. The Election Commission has been severely criticized for allowing overcrowded public rallies and road shows held by all political parties and politicians, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as coronavirus protocols such as maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks were blatantly ignored.
Madras HC said EC 'solely responsible' for second COVID-19 wave
Earlier this week, the Madras High Court had reprimanded the Election Commission, slamming its "silence" on political rallies that disregarded COVID-19 norms. "Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of COVID-19. Your officers should be booked on murder charges probably...Were you on another planet when the election rallies were held?" the High Court asked the top election body.
How bad is the COVID-19 situation in India?
India has been gripped by a dreadful second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, reporting lakhs of new cases daily amid an overburdened healthcare infrastructure. In the last 24 hours, the country logged 3,60,960 fresh infections - the highest single-day surge for any country. 3,293 more fatalities took the death toll past the two lakh-mark. India now has nearly 30 lakh active cases.