The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin
Fifteen Members of Parliament (MPs) and 56 staff of the Parliamentary Service have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, who announced this yesterday, said the MPs were among 227 lawmakers who subjected themselves to testing by the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research Centre which ended on Wednesday.
He stated that “the result of 193 staff received so far revealed that 56 of them tested positive to the virus. All the 56 staff have been contacted and advised to self-isolate,” and added that affected MPs and staff had been given prescriptions to facilitate their recovery.
“The institute has generously accepted to do a mob up tomorrow, Friday February 5, 2021. I want to urge members who haven’t taken the opportunities to do so to kindly do it tomorrow,” he directed and continued that “reports from the Parliament Medical Centre reveal that 200 of the 275 members submitted themselves, while others conducted their own test at private medical facilities.
“I want to urge those who conducted their own tests at private medical facilities to submit the results of those test to the Director of the Parliamentary Medical Centre.”
According to the Speaker, Parliament has therefore taken steps to test the households of the 15 MPs and the 56 staff in order to avert reinfection upon their return from self-isolation and treatment.
“In consultation with leadership and the Clerk, I have decided to implement the following measures to curb a further spread of the virus. The House will from next week sit twice in a week – that is on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
“Only MPs and members of staff who are needed for the business of the House on those days will be allowed into the precinct of Parliament from next week. This excludes members and staff who have tested positive and those who are yet to present themselves for the test. The Marshals, please take note and enforce this directive.”
On Wednesday, during proceedings of the house, the Speaker in a statement delivered on his behalf by the First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Wusu, had warned that he would be compelled to disclose the identities of the MPs who had tested positive for Covid-19 but were still coming to Parliament to do business.
“Stay home and self-isolate. Go through the protocols and recover before you return to the House,” Mr. Bagbin had said through his deputy and added that “Please, let’s take this protocol seriously and let all members, who have been informed of their (positive) test results, withdraw from the precinct of Parliament, and not just the Chamber.”
“Mr. Speaker wishes me to inform you 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,” the First Deputy Speaker had warned.
Last week Friday, Speaker Bagbin, disclosed that some MPs had tested positive to COVID-19, and added that all the people working in the Chamber were no longer safe, thereby urging noncompliant MPs to undergo tests for COVID-19 by this week, Tuesday.
“This is the last call I want to make on members because the team from the Noguchi Institute will be available on Monday and Tuesday. They are attending basically to the staff (both parliamentary and support staff),” the Speaker had said.
He added, “You should take advantage of the three days and get tested not just for your good but for the good of all members of your family, friends and your colleagues here in the House.”
“Please that should be the last call I will make. If I see that members are not complying, I will be compelled to read out the names of those who have not yet undergone the process of testing,” he warned.
Speaker Bagbin noted that his directive that all MPs should subject themselves to the test had not yet been complied with by over 60 MPs, stressing that “it is true, as the Majority has just stated, that we are not all safe. In the House some members are afflicted by COVID-19. ”
On Wednesday, the First Deputy Speaker said some 52 MPs remained recalcitrant and had not subjected themselves for testing, despite the warning by the Speaker.
By Ernest Kofi Adu, Parliament House