Thursday, September 23, 2021

Covid strikes MPs, Parliament staff ahead of special sitting

Many who tested positive were also close contacts.

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Close to 40 Parliament staff and at least two MPs are believed to have tested positive for Covid-19, less than two days before the first Dewan Rakyat sitting since the suspension of proceedings early this year, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

It is also learnt that the development has worried health authorities who warned that the numbers could be higher as many of those who tested positive were also close contacts.

Several Parliament staff who spoke to MalaysiaNow said all of them were subjected to Covid-19 tests on July 21.

It is understood that some 1,500 underwent the tests, with more than 30 confirmed positive. Dozens of others were also identified as close contacts and told to self-quarantine.

A second batch of tests on MPs meanwhile found least two, including the president of a political party, positive for the virus.

“Several aides of these MPs have also tested positive,” said a source, adding that several MPs from both Perikatan Nasional and Umno have been told to undergo home quarantine as they are close contacts.

“There could be more MPs, as some of them did their tests at private clinics and are still waiting for confirmation,” it said.

When contacted, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Harun confirmed to MalaysiaNow that there had been confirmed cases in the Parliament vicinity, but said health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah would make an announcement on the matter.

The July 26 sitting, which will run for five days, is to allow MPs to debate the National Recovery Plan announced by Putrajaya last month.

This will be followed by the fourth term of Parliament, to run for 15 days in September and another 32 days from October to December.

Last month, deputy speaker Rashid Hasnon said Parliament was ready to implement a hybrid Dewan Rakyat sitting if necessary.

It was thought that the special sitting next week would allow MPs to approve amendments to the Standing Orders including to the voting process to facilitate hybrid proceedings.

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