Kenya: 50 MPs, Parliament Staff Set for COVID-19 Testing

The National Assembly has submitted to the Ministry of Health a list of MPs and parliamentary staff it wants tested for Covid-19, as the country scales up efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Over 50 legislators and parliamentary staff may have interacted with Rabai MP Kamoti Mwamkale, who recently tested positive for the virus.

Tracking coronavirus

The two-term MP is said to have contracted the disease after coming into contact with Kilifi Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi during the March 9 burial of Msambweni MP Suleiman Dori.

On Sunday, a senior parliamentary official said that Mr Mwamkale is currently undergoing treatment in hospital.

"Parliament has since notified the Ministry of Health to trace and subject the people the MP may have interacted with," the official told the Nation.

The official records of the National Assembly show that Mr Mwamkale was in parliament on March 17 for 19 minutes, just hours before the House adjourned.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Among those who will be subjected to testing and mandatory quarantine are members of the House Committees on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) and Delegated Legislation, where Mr Mwamkale, a lawyer, is a member.

It is presumed that the two committees, with a combined membership of 38, may have held meetings in the presence of the MP.

The parliamentary staff attached to the two committees are also required to undergo tests.

Other than the members of the two committees, the ministry is also tracing other MPs who may have interacted with Mr Mwamkale.

Those who interacted with the MP are hoping they will not exhibit any Covid-19-related symptoms by March 31.

Experts say that it takes 14 days (incubation period) before one starts to show Covid-19 symptoms: dry cough, high fever, runny nose, weak joints among others.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma, a member of JLAC, said that social distancing as directed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) must be respected.

"The challenge to the politicians is that we are suddenly required by necessity to stay away from gatherings to stop the spread of the disease," said Mr Kaluma.

CONTACT TRACING

Mr Saburi is currently under medication. The Ministry of Health has since confirmed that it has traced 122 people said to have had a close contact with Mr Saburi for tests.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has already announced that Mr Saburi will be charged in court upon his recovery for defying a government order that those who arrive from afflicted countries self-isolate for 14 days.

Germany is one of the European nations significantly affected by Covid-19, with the US surpassing China's over 80,000 cases as Italy records close to 10,000 deaths, the highest in the world.

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