Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Call for special election lines for elderly, sick

Published:Thursday | August 13, 2020 | 12:26 AM
A supporter of the Jamaica Labour Party helps an elderly woman in her quest to vote in the St Catherine North East by-election on June 16, 2009. Ageing-rights advocate Jean Lowrie-Chin has called for fast-tracked service for elderly voters to limit exposur
A supporter of the Jamaica Labour Party helps an elderly woman in her quest to vote in the St Catherine North East by-election on June 16, 2009. Ageing-rights advocate Jean Lowrie-Chin has called for fast-tracked service for elderly voters to limit exposure to the coronavirus.

Jamaica’s election authorities have been urged to implement exclusive queues for elderly and sick voters to limit exposure to the new coronavirus with 1.9 million people registered to cast their ballots on September 3.

Global COVID-19 infections have topped 20 million, with elderly folk suffering from underlying health conditions most vulnerable to serious illness and death.

Concern by advocates for the aged coincides with an uptick in coronavirus cases in Jamaica in the last two weeks. As at Wednesday 1,065 infections were recorded in Jamaica. Fourteen people have died.

Founder of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), Jean Lowrie-Chin, is lobbying for elderly persons to be given priority treatment at polling stations.

Of particular concern to Lowrie-Chin is the treatment of very old and sick persons, some of whom are wheelchair users and very often have to be carried from their homes to the polling station.

“Whoever is picking up the elderly, we appeal to all the political representatives to ensure that the vehicles they use are properly sanitised and the people picking them up are wearing masks and are properly sanitised to protect our elderly,” Lowrie-Chin told The Gleaner.

The CCRP founder says she has raised the matter of allowing the elderly to jump the line with the Electoral Office of Jamaica.

Meanwhile, director of the Mona Ageing and Wellness Centre at The University of the West Indies, Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, has reserved comment until the COVID protocols for the election are published.

However, she, too, supports the provision of exclusive lines for senior citizens.

“They don’t have to come in early, but you should have a special line with all the COVID-19 precautions in place – masks, social distancing, and the sanitisation stations should be available for their use,” Eldemire-Shearer said.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com