The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has explained that his advice to some Members of Parliament (MPs) and members of staff of the Parliamentary Service to go into the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine should not be considered as punishment.
He said it was rather a protective move that would safeguard their health, that of their family members, Parliament and its guests, as well as the public.
“As we are speaking now, 10 MPs who travelled abroad in these circumstances have been asked to stay in self-isolation for the mandatory number of days. Five members of staff who also went abroad and came back have been asked to do same,” the Speaker said.
The returnees were on official assignment.
Addressing Parliament last Tuesday, Prof. Oquaye said: “Self-quarantine is for the protection of all people in Parliament, as well as the unsuspecting members of the public who may also happen to visit the premises for genuine business.”
He gave the explanation in a meeting with some reporters in his office to spell out measures the legislative body had initiated to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in Parliament.
Present at the meeting were a medical doctor, marshalls, the Clerk and other officials of Parliament.
Prof. Oquaye said the measures were in line with the protocol of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as part of steps to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
Included in the protocol is social (physical) distancing, for which Parliament has, in the interim, advised members of the House to sit two seats away from one another.
“As you know, people are required by WHO regulations not to sit too close to one another, including family members, and we all have to obey, in the interest of all.
“There are matters of important national interest which would have to be tackled, whether it is a war of weapon or war of disease by members of Parliament,” the Speaker added.
He said Parliament had instituted some measures to deal with the COVID-19 to ensure the safety of legislators, staff of Parliament, the media, as well as the public.
He outlined some of the measures as the circulation of notices of current information on the disease, the installation of sanitiser dispensers at vantage points, the frequent washing of hands with soap, as well as the wearing of protective nose masks by staff of Parliament and visitors.
Also, people who handled certain items within the Chamber and other relevant places, including those who took the temperature of MPs, staff and the media at various entry points, had been made to use surgical gloves, he added.
Additionally, the entire premises of the legislative House had been fumigated, the Speaker said.