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July 16, 2020
Front Page Ghana

Testing positive for COVID-19 shouldn’t be such a big secret – MPs

Members of Parliament have expressed displeasure at subtle attempts to deny reports that some colleagues have tested positive for the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

According to the MPs, hiding such information ultimately encourages stigmatization.

They argued that as an institution made of leaders, Parliament must take the first step in ensuring it does not stigmatize anybody.

Earlier this week there were attempts to deny reports that two MPs and some 13 staff had tested positive.

This follows voluntary testing organized by Parliament for legislators, staff and the media last week, which was subsequently upgraded to mandatory by the Speaker.

Contributing to a statement on the stigmatisation of COVID-19 patients, MP for West West Joseph Yileh Chireh, expressed shock at the denial and warned such denial does not help anybody.

“It is not right. You can admit some people have tested positive without mentioning names.”

“But I do not even see the problem about mentioning the name because it is not a disease we should be afraid to be stigmatized,” he stated.

Mr. Yileh Chireh noted that even frontline health workers have indicated a number of them have tested positive and they received the support of Ghanaians,”So why should it be different in Parliament,” he quizzed?

“I think that for us in Ghana to be able to fight this stigma we in leadership, whether parliament, executive or the judiciary should be an example for all of us and should be bold about it.”

Member for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, argued that many prominent world leaders who contracted the virus were not shy to talk about it citing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canada’s first Lady and Ghana’s Ambassador to the UK, Papa Owusu Ankomah as examples.

These people, he said, did not hide the information about their infection.

He questioned whether the government would have readily put out information of the infection of Ambassador Ankomah if he were living in Ghana.

“We must show leadership and I must say that I have not been happy at all over the last 24 hours with the way we have managed this information.”

In his contribution, Dr. Kweku Afriyie, MP for Sefwi Wiawso, stressed that no one has control over being infected with COVID-19.

He pointed out that a negative test result could change overnight and indicated there is no basis to discriminate against any patient.

“We have to speak and reach out and show support for those patients and those who have it should boldly come out and admit their status,” he said.

The Speaker, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, however, insisted nobody can unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive.

“It is only for an individual to volunteer to put this out in the public realm and we are all learning from this as decent and honourable people.”

“Such sensationalism must stop because they rather encourage stigmatization,” he said.

Frontpageghana.com/Uthman A. Marani

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