The issue of Parliamentarians testing positive for the COVID-19 virus must not be treated with kid gloves. Speaker of Parliament Alban Bagbin made the disclosure last week, and since then it has been an issue on everyone’s lips.
It is not that Parliamentarians are not expected to be infected, but the fact that some tested positive and are still mingling with the unsuspecting public is what has aroused the ire of Ghanaians at large; believing that the infected parliamentarians are acting irresponsibly.
While ordinary Ghanaians are being prosecuted for not wearing face masks, which are now mandatory, parliamentarians who tested positive for the virus are acting as if nothing is at stake! It is good news that all 15 members who have contracted the virus are to have their households tested – including the 56 members of staff who also tested positive.
That way, contact-tracing will be invoked to curb exponential spread of the virus. Indeed, had it not been for forthrightness from the Speaker – who threatened to publish the list of infected parliamentarians should they refuse to self-isolate, this information would not have come into the public domain.
As opinion leaders, much more is expected of our members of parliament; and when we have a virus that is baffling humankind in the manner COVID-19 has, the least we can expect of our parliamentarians is they be forthright and do the right thing when needed.
The risk posed by these recalcitrant parliamentarians is nothing to laugh at; that is why some have opined that they should be sanctioned if need be. If members of the august House submitted themselves to COVID-19 screening, then they should act responsibly and self-isolate if the test proved positive.
We cannot have a set of rules for the generality of the population and another for privileged parliamentarians, particularly when effects of the disease are unequivocal. News that 15 MPs and 56 parliamentary staff have tested positive for COVID-19 shows the extent of spread in this second wave that is causing so much angst.
It is also appropriate that Parliament sits for two days in the week as part of measures to curb spread of the virus. This arrangement will help in curbing rapid spread of the new COVID variant.