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‘We shouldn’t be in a hurry to name coronavirus-affected MPs – Speaker to parliament

The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has said nobody can unilaterally disclose the health status of another except the individual voluntarily does so.

He has, therefore, cautioned members of parliament not to be in a hurry to name any lawmaker who may have been infected with COVID-19.

The Speaker’s caution comes after Minority Chief Whip Mubarak-Mohammed Muntaka disclosed that two legislators and 13 staff of parliament have, indeed, tested positive for COVID-19 after the legislators and parliamentary staff underwent mandatory testing.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, 27 May 2020, Prof Oquaye said: “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”.

“It is only for an individual to voluntarily, put it in the public realm and we are all learning from this as decent and honourable people and this Honourable House will follow that line of the example, that is our public duty,” the speaker stated on the floor of the house.

“If you allow me to quote from what Honourable Dr Oko Boye said: ‘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 sensationalised news, you encourage stigmatization”, he added.

On Tuesday, the Director of Public Affairs, Kate Addo, denied reports that some MPs and staff had contracted the virus.

Also, the Majority Leader of Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said he was not aware that any member of the legislature had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Speaking at a press conference later in the day, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said: “What we agreed to do was that anybody who tested positive, the information will not be transmitted to all of us. It is between the person and the people who did the test. Some confidentiality is required”.

However, Asawase lawmaker Muntaka Mubarak confirmed the information saying: “This is what happens when they finished the testing. Initially, they were calling one-on-one and they had this discussion with us…that: ‘Look, the numbers are huge, this is what we want to do; can you put on your platform that all those who do not receive calls from us [but were] tested on Wednesday, if by Saturday you have not received a call from us, they should assume they’re negative and we’ll only call those who are positive.’”

He continued: “When they tested Wednesday and Thursday, on Wednesday, one MP and one staff tested positive and on Thursday, one MP and 12 staff tested positive. They have to do contact-tracing; they have to isolate these persons.”

Asked if the infected MPs and staff had been isolated, Mr Muntaka answered: “Yes. So far as I’m concerned, that has been done and they are now continuing with the contact-tracing…”

The Minority Chief Whip made these revelations in an interview on Accra-based Joy Prime.

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