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General News Wed, 27 May 2020

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Confusion in Parliament over MPs’ coronavirus test results

Parliament seems to have shifted its position that no Members of Parliament and staff of the Parliament Service tested positive for COVID-19 during a mass testing exercise.

Head of the Public Affairs Department of Parliament, Kate Addo, told journalists on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, that if any of the over 800 people whose samples were taken have tested positive, it will not be unheard of.

She explains, however, that Parliament has not been officially informed about any such positive COVID-19 case from the two-day testing exercise.

“As I speak to you right now, I do not know how many people have tested positive for the virus,” she said.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Public Affairs Directorate sounded emphatic when it said in a statement that media reports that some MPs and parliamentary staff members tested positive were unfounded.

Kate Addo was compelled to speak on the matter again on Wednesday after Minority Chief Whip, Muhammed Muntaka, said it was a lie if Parliament says no MP or parliamentary staff have tested positive for the virus.

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentarian mentioned on Joy Prime’s ‘Prime Morning’ that two MPs and 13 staff of Parliament have indeed tested positive for the virus.

Muntaka explained that the infected MPs and staff have been isolated while contact tracing has been initiated.

Explaining Parliament’s earlier response to the matter on Wednesday, Kate Addo stressed that it will not be out of place to state that the voluntary testing in Parliament has produced a positive COVID-19 case, but to the best of her knowledge that communication is yet to reach her office officially.

“The issue of 'she lied, he lied' should not even come into the story at this moment at all. I don’t think it is one person’s truth or one group’s truth against another person’s or group’s truth.

“What it is that as an institution we are yet to receive any information on the matter. I am sure that once we are finished with the testing, the testing centres will come out with the figures,” she said.

While not disputing the ability of the media and politicians to have their sources on confidential matters, the Head of Parliament’s Public Affairs Directorate said even if an MP tested positive, they will be contacted individually and isolated while contact tracing begins.

The Speaker of Parliament directed all members and staff of the House to be tested for coronavirus after revelations that some MPs have been placed under quarantine because they had just returned to Ghana from abroad.

In his welcome address as Parliament resumed sitting Tuesday, Prof Mike Oquaye assured members and all staff that the necessary steps will be taken to protect them.

“In addition to observing the established protocols, I have directed the clerk and parliament’s medical officers to immediately conduct tests for all honourable members and staff of the parliamentary service for Covid-19,” Prof Oquaye said.

Before the House went on recess, 15 were Members of Parliament and staff were placed under self-quarantine after they returned from an official trip abroad.

They included ten MPs and five staff of the Parliamentary Service.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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