Uganda Parliament has dismissed media reports indicating that 200 members of parliament tested positive for the deadly Corona virus.
On Tuesday, Henry Waiswa, the Deputy Clerk to Parliament in charge of Corporate Affairs communicated to legislators that parliament will close for two weeks from Monday, 28 June 2021 to Sunday, 11 July 2021 as Uganda battles the second wave of COVID-19.
He noted that Parliament like the rest of the country has been affected by the second wave of Covid-19 with a positivity rate of 17 percent.
“As a mitigating measure in the prevention of Covid-19 infection, the administration of parliament in consultation with the office of the Speaker is closing parliament to Members of Parliament for a period of two weeks in order to disinfect the parliamentary building,” Waiswa explained.
However, after his communication, several online and mainstream media reported that the temporary closure of activities at parliament, is caused by about 200 MPs who reportedly tested positive for the infection.
In fact, Daily Monitor, one of local dailies wrote on it’s front page on Wednesday that, “Covid: 200 MPs test positive.” The newspaper added that “Members of Parliament asked to stay away from House for a fortnight and Parliamentary workers reduced to skeletal staff after more than 200 lawmakers and parliamentary workers tested positive for the deadly virus over the past three weeks.”
But in a statement on Wednesday, Chris Obore, the Director for Communications and Public Affairs, said that much as it is a fact that parliament just like many other institutions in the country has been affected by the pandemic, reports suggesting that hundreds of MPs have tested positive for COVID19 are false and should be treated with the contempt they deserve.
He says parliament hosted the election of the Speaker and Deputy, State of the Nation Address and Presentation of the National Budget, all major events in the past three weeks, that warranted mandatory COVID-19 tests for the attendees including security, journalists, MPs and parliamentary staff.
He says out of the entire sample size, 40 people tested positive for the case of election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, 50 for the State of the Nation Address and 70 for Presentation of the National Budget.
“14 MPs tested positive on the whole and have all been asymptomatic cases with no hospitalization. Only two members of staff are currently hospitalized. There are a few recovering from home, because they were showing no symptoms,” says Obore.
He says that most MPs and staff who tested positive have since recovered.
“It is, therefore, not true that 200 MPs are positive and or hospitalized as reported. The closure of Parliament for two weeks is a precautionary measure taken for the safety of everyone,” adds Obore.
According to data from the Health Ministry, Uganda has registered 73,401 positive COVID-19 cases with 722 more cases confirmed on June 22, 2021. On the same day, 34 people succumbed to the deadly virus.