Millions of people across South Korea wore masks as they stepped out to vote in the country’s national parliamentary elections on Wednesday, even as theworld struggles to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
South Korea has been praised for its handling of the public health crisis that has affected more than 10,000 people in the country and millions across the world.
Read more: Could coronavirus win an election for South Korea’s president?
In line with the trends that emerged during early voting on Friday and Saturday, people are turning up in large numbers to vote in the national elections. However, this does not mean that public safety guidelines are being ignored.
Citizens stepped out wearing face masks. Even though there were long lines stretching around the block from some polling stations, authorities ensured that everyone maintained a distance of at least one meter (three feet). Duct tape and stickers were used to mark spots in the lines.
Workers at the polling stations were also required to wear masks and protective gear, as they checked the voters’ temperatures at the entry gates. Those found without a mask or exhibiting fever higher than 37.5 Celsius (99.5 Fahrenheit) were escorted to a separate area to cast their vote.
Before entering a booth, voters were asked to clean their hands using sanitizing gel and wear disposable plastic gloves.
Authorities also made provisions for more than 13,000 people who were under self-quarantine. They will be allowed to vote after polls close for everyone else at 6 p.m. local time (21:00 UTC). They can either be escorted by public servants or choose to be monitored through an app on their phones.
Special polling stations were set up for close to 2,800 coronavirus patients, who voted earlier. Voting by mail was also an option.
After a massive surge in the number of coronavirus infections in February, South Korea has managed to keep the new cases below 30 for the third straight day on Wednesday. The country has 10,591 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 225 deaths. More than 7,000 people have recovered.
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see/se (Reuters, AP, dpa)