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COVID-19: Parliament on lockdown

Parliament has gone under partial lockdown to stem the tide of the coronavirus infection.

Only essential staffs are to report to work while all others including national service persons and research assistants of MPs have been ordered to work from home.

There has been no suspicion of a Covid-19 case in Parliament but the Speaker Aaron Michael Oquaye is not taking chances.

The House has introduced sweeping preventive measures to complement earlier precautions including suspension of all mass visits and closure of the public gallery to visitors.

The latest effort is to uphold President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s directive to avoid gatherings of more than 25 persons in conformity with the principles of social distancing to avoid transmission of the virus.

Speaker of the House, Professor Mike Oquaye, outlined the new precautions to the media in Parliament on Monday.

According to him, Parliament has had to continue sitting to make laws that will regulate the avoidance and treatment of the infection after the President’s directive.

The House, he said, consequently put precautions in place to ensure the safety of MPs, staff, the media and the general public who may have urgent business in the House.

He stated, “As the House continues to sit, the Speaker is supervising measures to avoid possible contamination and spread of the disease in Parliament.”

“Some of the measures taken to curb the possible spread of the Coronavirus include the circulation of notices of current information on the disease at all vantage points.”

“The installation of sanitizers all over Parliament House, wearing of protective face masks by all Members Parliamentary Staff and visitors to the Chamber of Parliament”

“The use of surgical hand gloves by those who handle items within the Chamber, and taking of temperatures of people at various entry points into all buildings.”

“Placing of Veronica buckets at all entry points for all to wash their hands with soap before entering the premises starting Monday.”

Speaker Mike Oquaye disclosed that the new measures include mandatory self-quarantine for MPs and staff who return from foreign travels.

He directed MPs to sit at least two seats away from each other while the leadership makes arrangements for an alternative sitting venue to ensure Members do not sit in close proximity.

He disclosed that the entire House, covering all departments and stations, was fumigated on Sunday to keep the environment generally clean to prevent the hibernation of any germs.

The Speaker appealed for the cooperation of the public to ensure safety and reiterated calls to members of the public who do not have urgent business with Parliament to stay away.

Proceedings, he said, can be followed on the website of Parliament, on Facebook and other social media handles of the House.

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/Frontpageghana/ghana

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