Run-up to polls more of a concern for COVID than election day - Prof Madhi

Professor Shabir Madhi said in the case that the Constitutional Court was unable to postpone this year's elections, campaigning would have to be severely limited to prevent COVID-19 casualties reaching new record highs.

FILE: Voting station presiding officer supervising voters as they arrive at a voting station to vote in the by-elections in Ward 30, at Rantailane Secondary School in Ga-Rankuwa on 19 May, 2021. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court was on Friday morning expected to hear an application for the October elections to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccinology Professor Shabir Madhi has warned that holding the polls would only be safe when enough people were vaccinated.

READ MORE: COVID vaccine sites ready to welcome 18 to 34 age group from Friday

Government has so far administered just over 10 million jabs. The Health Department's aim is to roll out 28 million shots by the end of the year.

Madhi said that the problem was not so much that the election day could lead to super spreader events. He said experts were more concerned about the run-up to the polls with weeks of party campaigning.

"The virus is going to be with us for years to come, but the difference is we need to be similar to the United Kingdom. Over 85% to 90% of the population has been vaccinated, and consequently they can open up all of the stadiums without any sort of restriction," Madhi said.

“There can’t be any sort of electioneering in any sort of industry, and if you are doing electioneering outdoors, it needs to be well controlled. It shouldn't allow for more than 50 to 100 people that are maintaining social distancing. So, it's the run-up to the elections which is a bigger concern rather than a once-off election day, where things are much more controlled.”

Madhi said in the case that the Constitutional Court was unable to postpone this year's elections, campaigning would have to be severely limited to prevent COVID-19 casualties reaching new record highs.

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