There has been disagreement in Parliament over the results of COVID-19 tests conducted on Members of Parliament (MPs) and staff of the Parliamentary Service.
Last Tuesday, the Director of Public Affairs at Parliament, Ms Kate Addo, issued a statement denying reports that some MPs and staff of the House had tested positive for the virus.
On the same day, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, also said the reports that the MPs and some parliamentary staff had tested positive for the virus were merely speculative journalism.
However, yesterday, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mohammed Mubarak, disputed the claim by Parliament’s Public Affairs Directorate and the Majority Leader.
Speaking to the parliamentary press corps outside the Chamber, Alhaji Mubarak insisted that the media report that two MPs and 13 staff of Parliament had tested positive was accurate.
“What happened in Parliament and what you heard about MPs testing positive for COVID-19 is the fact. It is the truth,” he stood his ground.
He explained that the media report was based on positive results released last Wednesday of one MP and one staff testing positive on Wednesday and one MP and 12 staff testing same on Thursday.
He asserted that rather than blatantly denying the media report, the leadership of the legislative body could have explained that the one-week screening exercise was still ongoing and they were awaiting the outcome.
“They could have said many MPs and staff had not yet started. We can keep calm and by Friday we will now know the extent of our problem. And hopefully by Monday and Tuesday we would have known the full results which we will communicate to you officially as the position of Parliament,” the Asawase MP said.
He added: “But to deny was to smear Parliament and in my view, that was not in the national interest so I have to speak in the national interest to the public that this is not true.”
Kicking against suggestions by some Minority MPs for Parliament to be closed, he said MPs who had tested positive must be honest to disclose people they had been in touch with to aid contact tracing, saying that those affected had not been able to mingle with many legislators and staff of Parliament.
Addressing legislators later yesterday, the Speaker, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, stated that individuals and institutions must refrain from unilaterally putting out in the public domain the names of persons who had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ghana.
Speaking after MPs had contributed to a statement on the need for legislators and Ghanaians in general to spearhead the fight against stigma associated with COVID-19 in society, he said putting the names of COVID-19 positive persons in public amounted to sensationalism that could fuel the stigma.
According to him, it was only those who had tested positive for the disease that could voluntarily put in the public realm their status.
"You cannot unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive, let everybody know this; let every lady and gentleman, every person know this in this Republic, and it has been well stated in this Honourable House, you cannot unilaterally put in the public realm that a person is positive," he submitted.
The Speaker said: "It is only for an individual to voluntarily put it in the public realm and we are all learning from this as a decent and honourable people and this honourable House will follow that line of example. That is our public duty.
“We should show that we are not in a hurry to disclose names worthy of a headline and it is my view that such sensationalism — what is going on — must stop because they
rather encourage stigmatisation. "When you sensationalise news, you encourage stigmatisation," he added.
The contributions from the MPs followed a statement from the MP for Nabdam, Dr Mark Kurt Nawaane, on stigmatisation, discrimination and fear of recovered COVID-19 patients.
He said media reports over the last month suggested that recovered patients were not readily accepted by their own families, communities, friends and sometimes at the workplace.
He told the House that the rejection could be so intense that even their immediate family members such as children, spouse and others could be affected, adding that “in one
report a child who wanted to buy food was denied access because his father had returned.”
“Mr Speaker, the recovered patient is stronger than the non-infected because he has antibodies to protect him for some time.
He also does not pose a threat to anyone because he has tested negative on two occasions.
“These recovered patients are our heroes and heroines. They are not villains and under no circumstances should they be castigated. I, therefore, appeal to the mass media, NCCE,
health education and promotion unit of Ministry of Health, the Association of Clinical Psychologists and all of us to join in the fight against stigma, discrimination and fear
against recovered COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Source: Daily Graphic
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|