– says entire Parliament was at risk
Public Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, yesterday chastised two Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs), Sherod Duncan and Christopher Jones, for flouting the COVID-19 safety guidelines and by presenting themselves at the National Assembly after both being tested positive for COVID-19.
But the APNU+AFC, in a statement released hours after the COVID-19 status of both MPs were made public, sought to clarify that Jones had already completed his 13-day isolation period and therefore was not a threat to anyone.
“Mr. Jones underwent the recommended period of self-isolation, observed all protocols established by the Ministry of Health and his private health-care professional. He, therefore, attended Parliament today (Tuesday) confident that he was no threat to persons. All members of the APNU+AFC coalition will continue to observe these protocols until otherwise informed,” the party said.
Minister Anthony, however, noted that both MPs should have been in home isolation.
“From the information that I’ve now received,” he explained, “they were tested, they were advised that they should stay home for at least 13 days – the first 10 and then the second three and once they were asymptomatic, they would finish their home isolation. Both of them are still supposed to be in home isolation and at the time…both of them have breached the rules that we have for self-quarantine.”
What Jones and Duncan did, according to the Minister, “was highly irresponsible” as they may have exposed everyone, who attended the 12th Sitting of the National Assembly, to the deadly virus.
Parliamentarians, according to the Minister, had the option of being sworn in via the online zoom platform. Each MP was sent a letter days before by the Clerk of the National Assembly informing them of the different methodology that would allow those who tested positive to still participate in the proceedings.
While a majority of the MPs opted to be present in Parliament, two other MPs took the online route.
“This is actually highly irresponsible of them to come to the Parliament and endanger their colleagues – endanger all of us who were in the dome, parliamentary staff, everybody. So this really is unacceptable behaviour; it is really highly irresponsible for them to know that they have a positive test and yet show up in the parliament,” Minister Anthony said.
Further, the Health Minister noted that what Jones and Duncan did is tantamount to a criminal offence, adding that there is a COVID-19 order and a Public Health Law in place.
“…That law clearly states that if anybody knowingly spreads an infectious disease, then they’re committing an offence. And what we had yesterday was two Members of Parliament, who have tested positive and instead of staying in self-isolation, as is required by the Order and is required by the law, decided that they were going to breach those orders and law that we have and attend Parliament in person.”
Minister Anthony said that he was left with no choice but to alert the Clerk of the National Assembly of the MPs’ positive COVID-19 status.
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