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MPs drop plans for special sitting over coronavirus fears

Wednesday May 13 2020
By SAMWEL OWINO

A special sitting of MPs was cancelled indefinitely due to fears of mass coronavirus infections among them and a warning from the Ministry of Health, the Nation has learnt.

Sources at Parliament Buildings told the Nation that the ministry warned that it would have been reckless for MPs to carry on with the sitting scheduled for Tuesday before release of the results of all the 50 members who were tested.

In addition, unconfirmed information from multiple sources within Parliament indicated that at least 17 out of the 50 MPs tested so far are positive.

But the National Assembly's leaders, including Speaker Justin Muturi, dismissed this report as fake news.

“It is not true,” Mr Muturi told the Nation. “Results are given to individual members.”

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Clerk Michael Sialai said he was “not aware” of the alleged 17 cases.

“No. I have no such report. Testing was voluntary and results were given to individual members,” he said.

Majority Leader Aden Duale also denied the report:

“I’m not aware, I think it’s a sensational story," he said.

The alleged 17 cases were not captured in Tuesday's briefing by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, who announced 14 new cases.

HEALTH REVIEW

A bulk SMS that the clerk sent on Monday said the sitting was cancelled due to a review of health and safety arrangements related to reassurance of the health of MPs and staff while within Parliament precincts.

“Hon members, please note that what the Speaker of the National Assembly called off yesterday evening was the special sitting of the house scheduled for Wednesday, April 8," read the SMS seen by the Nation.

"The calendar of the house, including resumption of the sitting on 14th April remains as resolved by the house on March 17."

STIGMA

Minority Leader John Mbadi, who was among those tested, said he was still waiting for the results but confirmed that the ministry warned against going ahead with the sitting without the test results.

The Suba South MP said, “We should not stigmatise those with this disease. If one is sick, it is just a condition ... one can get better."

He added, "We should encourage people to go public; to come out and get tested."

With reports that more than 50 legislators and staff may have interacted with Rabai MP Kamoti Mwamkale, who recently tested positive for the virus, the house leadership said it could not risk the health of other members.

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