Parliament of Ghana has magnified its security measures and tightened its internal and external protocols to deal with the spread of the novel Coronavirus pandemic after attempts to conceal confirmed positive cases of the disease within the precincts of Parliament was exposed.
In addition to the existing protocols within Parliament, including the provision of hand washing equipment, hand sanitizer machines at vantage points and the strict enforcement of the wearing of face mask by every individual who comes to do business in Parliament, the institution has also taken special measures to reinvigorate its fight against the disease as directed by the Rt. Hon. Speaker Professor Mike Oquaye.
A special announcement signed by the Marshal of Parliament directed at the staff and the public on the efforts of Parliament in curbing the disease, indicates among others that visitors, research assistants attached to MPs, National Service Personnel and personnel on leave are not to be allowed into the precincts of Parliament without special permission.
Further to that, the Parliamentary Protection Unit of the Ghana Police Service and the Parliament Security have been directed by the Office of the Speaker to ensure that these restrictions are complied with through the application of minimum force.
It would be recalled that a few weeks ago, authorities of the Parliament of Ghana denied a news report published on the website of an Accra based radio station, Starrfm.com.gh which had then alleged that some two Members of Parliament and 13 staff members of the Parliamentary service had been confirmed positive for COVID-19 after going through the mandatory testing exercise ordered by the Speaker.
A press release signed by the Director of Public Affairs of Parliament, Madam Kate Addo, denied the knowledge of any confirmed cases within the precincts of Parliament, claiming that the arrangement between the institution of Parliament and the institution that conducted the test was to release the test results directly to the individuals involved and therefore the institution had no idea of any confirmed cases.
However, the Minority Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for the Asawase constituency in the Ashanti Region, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, broke ranks with the leadership of Parliament on this issue to confirm to the media that indeed there had been confirmed cases and the leadership of Parliament had been duly informed, except that the identity of the individuals involved were not revealed to them.
Since then, very little has been heard about the outcome of the rest of the results which were done after the first test result was leaked and the fate of the rest of the people who still frequent Parliament every day, except for the fact that one could see visible signs of appropriate measures put in place everywhere around Parliament which suggests that the institution is making frantic efforts to curtail a further spread of the disease.
Due to this, many people have speculated that perhaps the number of positive cases within the precincts of Parliament might have tripled or even quadrupled since the last confirmed cases came to the fore. Hence the frantic efforts of the authorities of Parliament to ensure that these stringent measures are put in place to avoid further spread.
Others have also gone ahead to suggest that, the forgoing should be enough basis for a reconsideration of the working conditions of staff and auxiliary staff. It has therefore been proposed that all the workers within the precincts of Parliament should be considered as frontline workers and the appropriate incentives accorded them.
By: Clement Akoloh