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Health Ministry Worried Parliament’s Plenary Sessions Could be a Breeding Ground for COVID19 Infections

Uganda’s Parliament has continued to hold plenary sessions in total disregard of health ministry guidance on social distancing to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

MPs regularly travel to foreign countries where Coronavirus has ravaged economies and left thousands dead.

Some had to undergo quarantine as a precautionary measure after transiting through epicenters of the COVID19 such as UK and Dubai.

Despite repeated warnings that holding plenary sessions which attract hundreds of lawmakers was a big danger which could act as a breeding ground for COVID19, Parliament has not moved an inch.

The Permanent Secretary Health Ministry, Dr Diana Atwiine has since expressed her concerns about the plenary sessions.

“One particular place that is worrying us as health is our parliamentary sessions that have continued in face of luck down,” said Atwiine who is at the frontline of combating the novel virus.

“May God protect our legislature. I am deeply worried,” she added.

MPs appear determined to continue holding these sessions as they attract allowances.

Some recently asked to be “facilitated” to fight COVID19.

The plenaries are always congested with MPs being unable to maintain at least a two-metre distance from neighbours.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), when someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus.

If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

More troubling is that the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, who recently spent over a month in foreign hospitals at a cost of Shs 1bn paid by the taxpayer, is putting her life in danger.

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness when affected by COVID19.

Iran’s parliament speaker recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Pariament has since tried to dismiss public criticism of its actions, saying its carrying out its oversight responsibilities.

Guidelines

Kadaga has since issued new guidelines, saying Parliament business in plenary and committees shall be held in the chamber and must end not later than 5pm.

She said every sitting shall have not more than 100 Members of Parliament, five staff of Parliament to be deployed by the Clerk and two staff on the technical bench of government.

However, this does not make sense considering that even small gatherings of more than five people are not allowed due to the fear of spreading COVID19.

President Museveni yesterday said government was grappling with the public’s “indiscipline” which could trigger a rise in Coronavirus infections.

Currently, there are 457 MPs in the 10th Parliament.

Uganda has registered 53 positive cases of the COVID-19 as at Wednesday, 8 March 2020.

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