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Long lines at the Exchange RC School for the UNC internal elections yesterday.

RADHICA DE [email protected]

Despite revelations that three children were hospitalized from COVID-19 complications, some UNC voters brought their children to the UNC’s internal polls yesterday.After midday, UNC’s political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar urged parents to keep their children away, saying parents need to be more responsible.With the COVID-19 risks, Persad-Bissessar revealed that many people had stayed away from the polls so voter turnout was low.The UNC’s strongholds of Oropouche East, Oropouche West, Naparima and Princes Town had a steady stream of voters but in some parts of North and Central Trinidad, voting was poor.At the Parvati Girls Hindu College, a child was seen in the line but the mother eventually took him away. Sanitization and social distancing were practised within the confines of the polling station but outside the people could be seen congregating. Everyone wore masks and those in the line leading to the polling booth were safely spaced out.At the Shiva Boys Hindu College, San Francique Hindu and Lengua Presbyterian, there was a poor turnout during the morning period, but this changed after midday.At the Rochard Douglas Presbyterian, there were also long lines as scores of UNC members voted.Persad-Bissessar who voted at 2 pm said her campaign had been “wonderful, inspirational, very uplifting and motivating.” Asked what were her chances and whether she believed she will retain the political leadership, which is being contested by Vasant Bharat, Persad-Bissessar said, “With every election, you don’t celebrate until the last vote is counted. I am waiting for that this evening or later tonight. Some votes will come in early like those from the smaller constituencies, but the big ones will go on after midnight. I think our chances are very good for the Star team but again we await the outcome of the elections.”Asked whether she was satisfied with the overall handling of the elections by the Elections Committee, Persad-Bissessar said there were some irregularities.”We had complaints where the other team has been overly campaigning on the compounds, within the stations and along the road in cars. I don’t know that it will do them much good but they continue to campaign,” she said.Told about children being seen at polling stations, Persad-Bissessar said, “It is unfortunate if that is happening because parents need to be more responsible. Maybe it is because of their enthusiasm level. We have never encouraged children to come out for elections, you know that, whether it’s general, local or internal. If that is happening, I will be disappointed and I urge parents to keep their children home.”She said the campaign had been civilized for the most part but noted, “There have been some persons, if not the candidates, persons on social media who could have been kinder. Politics is a civilized form of war. That’s what some people are- the haters, I call them. This is Trinidad and we need to work together, we have to heal together and go forward together. She noted that because of COVID-19 there was a lower turnout.Some supporters who were interviewed at Parvati Girls Hindu College said they were disappointed in the way Persad-Bissessar was attacked personally.Usha Rampersad, who went up on the slate of Dr Roodal Moonilal in 2015, when he contested the political leadership position said, ” I preferred not to see some of the name-callings. People should talk about issues instead of people. Persad-Bissessar is the political leader and any ripe mango will be attacked. Kamla has been the best Prime Minister has ever had in my lifetime,” she added. Hayse Maharaj said he also voted without any hassle, noting that because of COVID-19 many people were not interested in voting.Angus Mitchell, who hobbled into the polling booth clutching his catheter said, “Despite my health condition I came out to vote for the lady I love.”On Saturday, a day before the elections, Dr Michelle Trotman, head of thoracic care at the Caura Hospital, urged parents to take care of their children because of COVID-19.

She said three children had contracted COVID-19 who was now suffering from a condition known as a multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). This, she said is a rare but severe condition that can develop in children and adolescents who have been infected with COVID-19 and usually appears about two to four weeks following the infection. The condition can strike multiple organs and systems, including the heart, lungs, eyes, skin and gastrointestinal system. Trotman said parents must keep their children safe and continue sanitising, mask-wearing, social-distancing and other measures.