Parliament coronavirus testing rules changed after two more MPs test positive

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Parliament of India (File Photo)
Parliament of India (File Photo)

New Delhi : Monsoon Session is going on to pass some crucial bills and making the proceedings hard is coronavirus which has impacted the Parliament. Two more MPs have tested positive to coronavirus who had attended the recent proceedings.

Union tourism and culture minister Prahlad Patel and BJP’s senior Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, a day after transport minister Nitin Gadkari did. All three had tested negative in the gold standard RT-PCR tests over the weekend, and experts said their positive tests points to the need for frequent repeat testing — and for the lawmakers attending Parliament’s ongoing session to wear masks and maintain social distancing even while out of the House.

Taking note of the situation, the Parliament has advised frequent coronavirus tests of the lawmakers and more intensive sanitisation of the chambers and Parliament building. There are reports which suggest that this year Monsoon Session could be cut short due to the virus spread.

"No formal direction has been issued to MPs yet (on the tests) as we see that many of them are already taking a repeat RT-PCR test on their own. The speaker’s office has already clarified that a lawmaker is free to take as many tests as he want," said a senior official involved in keeping Parliament safe.

Both Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla hurriedly consulted various experts and lawmakers before tightening the current Covid safety protocols.

The circular added: "Officials issued with general entry session passes must carry/show their rapid antigen (negative) report for the same day of their visit to Parliament House."

Journalists who are going inside the Parliament have also been asked to take up the mandatory antigen Tests. The monsoon session, delayed by two months due to the pandemic, started on September 14 after all lawmakers, officials and journalists covering the session were tested for Covid-19.