Jamaica elige nuevo gobierno en el pico de contagios y podrán votar las personas con Covid-19
Todo listo para elecciones en Jamaica, pese a la Covid-19
Jamaica abrirá mañana las urnas para nuevas elecciones generales, en medio de un constante aumento de casos de la Covid-19 y con una fuerte contienda entre las dos principales fuerzas políticas.
Los comicios fueron convocados hace tres semanas por el primer ministro y líder del Partido Laborista de Jamaica (JLP), Andrew Holness, quien justificó su decisión con la necesidad de ‘buscar otro mandato de la gente’, pese a la crisis sanitaria mundial.
Según el gobernante, su país no es el único que celebra elecciones durante la pandemia, la cual ha ocasionado hasta ahora dos mil 357 casos confirmados y 22 fallecidos en Jamaica.
‘Nunca haríamos nada para poner en peligro la vida de las personas. La pandemia solo terminará cuando haya una vacuna segura y ampliamente distribuida’, dijo Holness en una reciente entrevista.
Tanto el JLP como el Partido Nacional Popular (PNP), el principal de la oposición, presentan aspirantes a los 63 escaños parlamentarios en disputa junto con otros 13 independientes. De los 139 nominados, 34 son mujeres, de acuerdo con datos de la Oficina Electoral de Jamaica.
En los comicios generales de 2016, el JLP conquistó 32 curules, frente a 31 el PNP, y obtuvo otros dos en los comicios parciales de 2017 y 2019.
La cita en las urnas está marcada por el fuerte impacto económico y social causado por la Covid-19, en particular en materia de empleo.
De acuerdo con el Instituto de Planificación de Jamaica, la economía nacional registrará una contracción de entre un cuatro y un seis por ciento en el año fiscal 2020-21.
Antes de la Covid-19 el pronóstico indicaba un crecimiento del 1.2 por ciento del Producto Interno Bruto.
El padrón para los comicios está integrado por casi un millón 914 mil votantes.
El gobierno autorizó la votación de personas confirmadas de Covid-19, pero solo entre las 16:00 y 17:00 horas y ‘bajo estrictas pautas’, como el uso de mascarilla, un protector facial, guantes y una bata desechable, entre otras exigencias.
Las personas en cuarentena por ser casos sospechosos o contactos de enfermos confirmados, también podrán acudir a depositar su voto una hora después que lo hagan los pacientes que dieron positivo.
Además están dispuestas medidas sanitarias especiales dentro de los colegios electorales.
After months of unofficial campaigning and three weeks of the official election campaign it is now up to Jamaicans to decide whether the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) or the People’s National Party (PNP) will form the Government for the next five years.
The Andrew Holness-led JLP will go into today’s contest with the advantage, based on national public opinion polls, but these have been wrong on many occasions, giving the Dr Peter Phillips-led PNP confidence that it will be returned to power after a four-and-a-half-year break.
Both leaders have, as expected, predicted that they will lead their party to victory, with Holness telling the Jamaica Observer that he expects to emerge with a bigger margin than the 34 to 29 seats that he ended his last term.
“The party’s machinery is intact, it is well mobilised, it is also high energy and there is a high level of vigilance with that energy as well,” Holness told the Observer as the election loomed.
Phillips was equally confident as he spoke with the Observer on Tuesday.
“Regardless of what the polls say, we are looking at what we see on the ground, and we know what our Comrades are saying and therefore we are focused on victory.”
The two leaders are well aware that it will be a handful of seats — no more than 20 — which will determine the election as the two parties start with a number of constituencies in which it would be an upset of monumental proportions if they were to lose.
For the JLP, it can count constituencies such as Kingston Western, Manchester North Eastern, St Andrew North Eastern, St Catherine Central and its leader’s own St Andrew West Central in the winning column before the first vote is cast this morning.
But the JLP knows it will have to hang on to marginal constituencies such as St Andrew West Rural, St Andrew Eastern, Hanover Eastern, St Andrew North Eastern, and the two Clarendon seats of south eastern and north central, where veteran Members of Parliament have been replaced by two relative newcomers.
The JLP could also find itself in battles in St Catherine East Central, where the incumbent Alando Terrelonge is facing a stiff fight from the PNP’s Raymond Pryce, and St James West Central where Marlene Malahoo Forte will have to beat back newcomer Dr Andre Haughton.
On the PNP’s side, it can expect its usual runaway victories in constituencies such as St Andrew Southern, Kingston Eastern and Port Royal, and St Ann South Eastern.
But the PNP will have to claw back St Mary South Eastern, which it lost in a by-election following the 2016 General Election. The Comrades will also have to take back St Andrew Eastern and St Andrew West Rural, which they lost in 2016.
The Phillips team could also find itself defending some surprising seats, including Manchester Central, where Peter Bunting, a proven winner, finds himself in an unexpected battle with the JLP neophyte Rhoda Moy Crawford.
The PNP could also find itself in major fights in three other seats that it has traditionally won — Trelawny Northern, where the incumbent Victor Wright is facing an energetic Toya Hamilton; St Catherine South Eastern, where veteran MP Colin Fagan is facing the fight of his life against Robert Miller; and Hanover Western, where regular winner Ian Hayles is seeing a surprisingly strong challenge from newcomer Tamika Davis.
Just over 882,000 people, or 48.3 per cent of the 1,824,412 individuals on the voters’ list, voted in 2016, and with rain in the forecast for many parishes today, plus the fears surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic, both political parties will have to pull out all the stops to get their support of the 1,913,410 Jamaicans registered to vote this time around.
In the meantime, the Government has given approval for people in quarantine, even those positive for COVID-19, to vote, but with strict protocols.
Under the rules people, required to remain in quarantine, other than those who are required to remain in isolation from others, may leave quarantine once to vote, during the hours of 7:00 am and 5:00 pm and shall immediately after voting return to quarantine.
In addition to wearing a mask over the nose and mouth, they are required to observe protocols of the polling station and maintain physical distancing.
They must also travel to the polling station in a private vehicle with windows open and the air conditioning switched off. The driver and other passengers should also wear masks at all times.
Similarly, people required to remain in isolation from others may leave quarantine once for the purpose of voting during the hours of 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm and shall immediately after voting return to quarantine in isolation from other people.
They are also required to notify the Ministry of Health and Wellness prior to leaving quarantine and wear a mask fitted to cover the nose and mouth, a face shield, gloves and a disposable gown.
Transportation to the polling station must be private with only a driver present in the vehicle, among other requirements outlined by the Government.
A total of 139 candidates have been nominated to contest the election with the two major political parties accounting for 126 of that number.
The electronic voter identification system, which is computer-based and requires voters to place a specific finger on a fingerprint scanner to be issued a ballot, will be used in six constituencies — St Andrew Western; St Andrew West Central; Kingston Eastern and Port Royal; St Andrew East Rural, St Catherine Central, and St Catherine Eastern.
The polls open at 7:00 am and close at 5:00 pm, with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica is projecting that a result should be available by 10:00 pm.
COVID Positive Electors To Be Allowed To Vote
The Government has released new protocol which will allow for COVID positive people in isolation to go out to vote in the special services poll today or during Thursday’s general election on September 3.
Members of the security forces and election day workers will vote today.
In a statement released shortly after midnight, the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said people in isolation will only be allowed to vote between the hours of 4 pm and 5 pm and under strict guidelines.
It said the following guidelines must be followed:
1. Before leaving isolation, the voter must notify the Health and Wellness Ministry at 888-ONE-LOVE (888-663-5683), 888-754-7792, 876-542-5998, or 876-542-6006;
2. Except as otherwise directed by an election officer, for the duration of the time when the person is out of isolation, he/she must wear a mask fitted to cover the nose and mouth, a face shield, gloves and a disposable gown;
3. As far as is reasonably practicable, for the duration of the time when the person is out of isolation, he/she must maintain social distancing of six feet from other persons.
4. The voter must travel to and from a polling station in private transportation in which:
a) there are no other persons except for the driver, who shall wear a mask fitted to cover the driver’s nose and mouth.
b) the windows of the vehicle must remain open and the air conditioning switched off.
5. The voter must wash or sanitise hands before leaving the place of isolation and before and after entering the transportation.
6. The voter must maintain the maximum practicable social distance from the driver in the vehicle.
7) The voter must comply with all the protocols at the polling station.
Meanwhile, the OPM said persons in quarantine will also be allowed to vote.
These are people who may have been exposed to a positive patient or would have arrived in the island within 14 days and orders to remain in a particular location.
They will be allowed to vote from 7 a.m to 5 p.m on September 3.
If they are in the special services, they will be allowed to vote from 8 am to 4 p.m today.
However, after voting, they shall immediately return to quarantine.
They are required to comply with the following requirements:
1. Travel only to and from a polling station in private transportation in which:
a. the driver and all passengers at all times while in the transportation each wear a mask fitted to cover their nose and mouth.
b. the windows remain open and the air conditioning is switched off;
c. Maintain the maximum practicable social distance from other persons in the transportation;
2. If the person develops any COVID symptom or any flu-like or respiratory symptoms, he/she must immediately inform an election officer at the polling station.
Meanwhile, the OPM says persons aged 75 years and older will also be allowed to leave home to go to vote.
Under a previous order, they were restricted to stay home except for essential services and supplies.
All persons at a polling station must obey the following orders:
1. Wear a mask fitted to cover the nose and mouth, except as may otherwise be required by an election officer for the purposes of identification.
2. Submit to a temperature check before entering the polling station.
3. Wash or sanitise the hands upon entering the polling station, and at such other times while at the polling station as may be directed by an election officer; and
4. Maintain social distancing of six feet from other persons.
3 more COVID-19 deaths, 139 new cases
Jamaica confirmed three more COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, as well as 139 new cases.
Two of the deaths were previously under investigation and are now classified as COVID-19 related. The deceased are an 82-year-old man from Clarendon; a 75-year-old woman from St Catherine, and a 65-year-old man from Kingston & St Andrew. All cases had comorbidities, namely diabetes and hypertension. This brings to 27 the total number of COVID-1 9-related deaths in Jamaica. One other death remains under investigation.
The addition of the 139 new confirmed COVID-19 cases bring the total cases on record for the island to 2,822. Recoveries also increased by two, bringing the total number of patients who have recovered and have been released to 900.
The country is now managing 1,822 active cases, including 11 moderately ill patients and seven critically ill patients.
Of the newly confirmed cases, there are 71 females and 68 males, with ages ranging from one year to 97 years. The cases were recorded in Kingston & St Andrew (44); St Catherine (44); St Thomas (19); Manchester (13); St Ann (six); St Mary and Portland (four each); St James (three); and Trelawny and Clarendon (one each).
Seven of the new cases are contacts of confirmed cases, while the remaining 132 cases are under investigation.