PPP Stalwart, Nana Ofori Owusu has chastised Parliament for hushing up the status of the members who underwent a mandatory test for COVID-19 following reports that some MPs and staff of the legislative house had contracted the disease.
Reports indicated that two Parliamentarians and thirteen (13) staff members had tested positive for the virus.
Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu described the media reports as untrue adding that the media is only being speculative on the status of the members.
Addressing a press conference, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu stated that test results on the MPs and staff are confidential and not made public by the COVID-19 team.
He therefore wondered where the media reports on positive cases in the legislative house had emanated from.
Parliament Divided Over Test Results
Speaking to the parliamentary press corps outside the Chamber, the Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Muntaka insisted the reports were accurate, hence confirming two MPs and 13 staff of Parliament had tested positive.
“What happened in Parliament and what you heard about MPs testing positive for COVID-19 is the fact. It is the truth,” he stressed.
This notwithstanding, the Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament issued a statement to set the record straight on which party is lying or telling the truth.
“Contrary to reports in the media, that Parliament lied about the results of the COVID-19 tests results, Parliament would like to state categorically that no untruth was peddled in the said matter. This follows allegations by the Honorable Minority Chief Whip that the Director of Public Affairs lied in the said matter and that these were told to her by the Honorable Majority Leader…Parliament wants to put on record that it has no particular interest in hiding the results of the tests.
“Parliament would also like to make specific reference to a news release dated 26/05/2020 signed by the Director of Public Affairs which requested the media house to pull the story down on the basis that the facts were not true since they were not known to the directorate and would like to state that this assertion does not mean that the House denied the possibility of anyone testing positive for COVID-19. It therefore is rather unfortunate that this was interpreted to mean a denial of a possible positive test result, leading to media reports that Parliament lied.”
Speaker Of Parliament Fumes
The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye also issued a caution to the House and media asserting ”you cannot unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive”.
“We should show that we are not in a hurry to disclose names worthy of a headline and it is my view that such sensationalism which is going on must stop because they rather encourage stigmatization. When you sensationalize the news, you encourage stigmatization,” he added.
Why Conceal COVID-19 Test Results?
Making his submissions on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’, Nana Ofori Owusu called on Parliament to publicly declare their test results because it will help in addressing the insubordination of some Ghanaians in observing the safety and social distancing protocols to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
He wondered why the House wants to conceal the information, stressing this culture of hiding things must stop.
“The Royal House in the UK, they came out openly to say they have it. The Prime Minister has come out to say he has it. Other countries are coming out to say they have it but this culture of us where we hide things, those things the traditions and modernity, we need to deal with the axles for this tension…in a way to transform our society and we will never be the same again…We’re supposed to develop as a people,” he told host Kwami Sefa Kayi.