Before the July 11, 2021 date of the snap parliamentary elections was announced, there were fears that the COVID-19 infection can endanger the proper conduct of elections. Statistics of the infection rate and deaths due to the infection against the background of debates on the opportunity of organizing elections looked very discouraging. After a peak was reached in March 2021, in April the infection rate declined dramatically to a level lower than that of November 2020, when the presidential runoff was held.
Table 1. Number of monthly cases of COVID-19
In May 2021, when the campaign prior to the snap election started, the number of infections decreased even further, to the level witnessed a year ago, being comparable with the infection rate in May 2020. In general, it should be noted that the presidential elections of 2020 were organized amid the expanding COVID-19 pandemic. The preparations for the presidential elections started in August-September 2020, while the election campaign was held in October-November. In the period, the monthly infection rate rose from about 12,000 to 32,000. We can admit that the holding of the presidential elections had a negative impact on the spread of COVID-19, the peak being reached after the incubation period, in December – over 37,000 cases.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the socialization of citizens during the traditional holidays is as intense or is even more intense than during the elections. The families usually reunite with friends and close people. However, despite the noisy holidays, no negative effect on the spread of the infection was witnessed. This way, taking into account the 14-day incubation period, after the celebration of Christmas according to the new style and of Christmas according to the old style, there was seen no explosion in the number of infections. On the contrary, in January the number of nee cases declined over two times on December. The same phenomenon was witnessed after the recent Easter holidays of the start of May, after which the infection rate decreased about four times compared with April. It should be noted that the number of deaths from COVID-19 followed, with particular inertia, the trends set by the evolution of infections. Currently, the death rate is comparable with that before the presidential elections.
Table 2. Monthly number of deaths from COVID-19
So, the campaign prior to the snap parliamentary elections takes place amid a pronounced decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and associated deaths. Despite the positive developments in fighting COVID-19, there are yet worrisome phenomena with a possible impact on the organization of the snap elections of July 11, 2021 and on the post-electoral epidemiological situation. The Central Election Commission (CEC) very soon is to adopt decisions concerning the establishment of polling stations abroad and for the Moldovans living in Transnistria. This exercise of the CEC should take into account the epidemic situation in the respective countries and in the Transnistrian region. At the end of March and throughout April, when the spread of COVID-19 on the right bank of the Nistru started to decline, the developments the Transnistrian region were inverse and the number of infections grew considerably.
Table 3. Evolution of daily infections in R. Moldova in general, on the right bank of the Nistru, in Chisinau and in Transnistria
The table above shows that the number of daily infections in Transnistria during the past two months often exceeded the figures in Chisinau, where the number of inhabitants is almost twice higher, while sometimes it exceeded even the records for the whole right bank of the Nistru. To emphasize this, it is useful to show the infection rate per 1 million people.
Table 4. Weekly infection rate per 1 million people in March-May 2021
As the infection rate in Transnistria is about three times higher than on the right bank of the Nistru – 652 vs. 202 weekly cases per 1 million people – the authorities should take special measures to prevent a new outbreak of COVID-19 following the voting by citizens living in Transnistria at polling stations on the right bank of the Nistru.