Coronavirus update: No handshake in Parliament …Speaker stops MPs

Parliament has introduced a no-handshake policy on the floor of the House to avert the possible infection of the corona virus during the course of business.

Additionally, hand sanitisers have been placed at vantage points for use by everybody within the premises of the House as one of the preventive measures.

Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament announced this on the floor yesterday to give details of measures instituted to forestall anybody contracting the virus within the premises of Parliament House.

He said the danger of contracting the coronavirus through physical contact is real for people to continue with the common courtesy of friendly handshakes.

He has therefore advised members of parliament to avoid handshakes and personal contact which put people at high risk of contracting the virus, especially on the floor of the House until the crisis was over.

Prof. Quaye said this measure has become imperative since the virus was noted for entering the body through any of the body apertures, especially, the mouth and the nose adding that it would be prudent for Parliamentarians to avoid rubbing their faces with the hands until a sanitiser has been used.

He asked the Clerk of Parliament to also take urgent steps to instruct the receptionist to be wary of visitors entering the building who might display symptoms of the virus adding that all the measures were for their own interest, however inconvenient they might seem now.

Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip in supporting the measures called for additional steps to be taken in procuring temperature detecting machines at the entry points to examine visitors into the building.

He said there was also the need to continuously clean the chamber with disinfectants since contacts with the chamber was very rampant during the business of the day.

Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, Members of Parliament for Juabaso Constituency praised the steps taken by Parliament to forestall any surprises within the chamber but was however pessimistic about the national response to the outbreak of the virus.

In a media briefing after the Parliament in reaction to the statement by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that US$100 million has been allocated to deepen the country’s preparedness to combat the virus, he said that should not be a lip service but pragmatic measures needed to be put in place to fight the virus which has been declared as pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He said there was the need for the government to as soon as possible make the money available to fight the virus now known as COVID-19 adding that from all indications the country’s preparedness was not enough judging from the fear and panic which emerged out of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital a week ago when a suspicious case was announced.

Mr Akandoh said since all Ghana’s neighbours have registered a case it was high time to put concrete measures in place to prepare for any eventuality adding that the government could not decide to work at its own pace.

BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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