The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, has expressed concerns about how some Members of the Parliament (MPs) have been flouting COVID-19 protocols to the extent that they have tested positive for the viral disease are still attending Parliamentary meetings.
According to the Speaker, the manner in which some MPs who have tested positive for COVID-19 are still showing up in the Chamber, ignoring the risk they pose to colleague members and staff of Parliament was worrying.
“Some Members of Parliament who have tested positive to COVID-19 are still coming to the Chamber,” the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, said when he delivered a communication from the Speaker on the floor of Parliament Wednesday [Feb 3, 2021], reports Nana Konadu Agyeman, Graphic Online’s Parliamentary correspondent.
“The Speaker wishes to inform that if those members do not withdraw and isolate, he will be forced to publish the names of members who have tested positive in order to warn the rest of us.”
”Please, let us take this protocol seriously and let us all members who have been informed of their test results, that they have tested positive to withdraw from the precincts of Parliament, not just the Chamber. Stay home and self-isolate to go through the protocol and recover before you return to the House,” he stated.
Help us know identities
Contributing, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, said to help curb the spread of the virus in Parliament, it was necessary for the whips of both sides of the House to know the identities of those infected so that they could help them to stay away.
“As Minority Chief Whip, I need to know the members on my side to ensure these members are not only in the Chamber but also they are not in their offices,” he said.
He called for the streamlining of the manner in which the results of COVID-19 tests were communicated to those who undertook the test and tested positive.
He argued that even those who had taken the test that proved negative, it was important that their reports were given to every member.
“You do not keep quiet and say that if I am not called that means I am negative and if only when it is positive that you are called. No,” the said MP for Asawase said.
MPs still not doing the test
Contributing, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, reminded the House that as of last Friday 60 members of the House had not submitted themselves to the earlier COVID-19 screening exercise.
Such attitude, he said, was what occasioned the technical COVID-19 team to return to Parliament to undertake the exercise.
He, therefore, was worried three and five MPs submitted themselves for screening yesterday and today respectively.
“So, it means that out of the 60 that have not submitted themselves, 52 have still not submitted and that is the danger,” he said.
He acknowledged that while some of the MPs have undergone the COVID-19 test in private health facilities, three MPs had shown their test results to him, saying that “that sill will not exonerate the remaining 52.
He, therefore, pleaded those who had not taken the test to immediately exit the Chamber to go and submit themselves for the testing.
The Suame MP also told the House that many staff of Parliament and journalists had not done the COVID19 test and therefore requested all those concerned to submit themselves for the test.
“As the Speaker said, if you do not, in all likelihood from next week, we will not allow people who have not submitted themselves to be in the Chamber and perhaps for the staff not to be in your various offices,” he advised.
Last Friday, the Speaker informed the House that more than 60 MPs had failed to comply with his directive for them to undergo a compulsory COVID-19 screening being initiated by the Parliamentary Service Board.
He, therefore, warned members of the House to subject themselves to the COVID-19 testing, failure of which he would be compelled to name those recalcitrant MPs.
“My directive for all members to subject themselves to COVID-19 test has not yet been complied with by over 60 Members of Parliament. It is true, as the Majority Leader has stated, that we are all not safe.
“Even in the House some members are afflicted by COVID-19. You may not know who the person is because of the protocols and issues of confidentiality; we are not to disclose those who are now COVID-19 positive but we have some of us in that category,” he stated.