Kenya: Ministry Denies Claims 17 MPs Are Infected With COVID-19

Residents of Nairobi walk past the Kenya National Archives National in Nairobi (file photo).

The government has denied reports appearing in a section of the media that 17 members of Parliament had tested positive for Covid-19.

On Wednesday, the Health ministry through Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said there were no reports from Lancet Laboratories, who carried out the tests, of anyone testing positive for the virus.

"It is important to ensure that labs follow protocols (in revealing test results). As it stands, we have no formal reports of (confirmed positive cases in private labs)," she said.

Lancet Group of Laboratories chief executive officer and chief consultant pathologist Ahmed Kalebi said testing was voluntary and results were given to each MP in confidence.

"The information circulating in the media about Covid-19 confirmed cases at Parliament is completely incorrect, misleading and should be disregarded," he said.

And added: "In particular the information circulating both in terms of purported numbers and names of people who have allegedly tested positive for Covid-19 is entirely false."

AVOID STIGMA

Lawmakers took to social media to make public their results amid a myriad of unanswered questions among members of the public.

For instance, where are those MPs who are positive? Did they self-quarantine, or they were interacting with people and further spreading the virus?

It is also still not clear how Lancet got the authority to test MPs as the government had barred it from conducting the test.

Minority Leader John Mbadi, who was among those rumoured to have tested positive, dismissed the claims. "I am fine. Just working from home ... I urge everyone to adhere to the ... advisory by the Ministry of Health," he said.

Rabai MP Kamoti Mwamkale is the only legislator who is known to have tested positive.

Mr Mwamkale 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.

Siaya Senator James Orengo also said he took a voluntary test on Friday last week and the result was directly conveyed to him by a doctor confirming that he tested negative.

"As a nation and as a people, we are in this together and must confront Covid-19 as an army. Fear of the virus should not be turned into stigma but (should strengthen the) resolve to fight the pandemic," Mr Orengo said.

CONCERTED EFFORTS

Saboti lawmaker Caleb Amisi also dismissed claims that he had tested positive, saying the allegations were not factual, were alarmist and without basis.

He observed that the pandemic requires concerted effort in order vanquish it. "I participated in the voluntary testing of MPs as directed by the parliamentary leadership and the results came negative," Mr Amisi said in a statement.

Nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi said he also presented himself for voluntarily testing at Parliament buildings on April 3 and the result was relayed to him on April 6 by Lancet, who confirmed that he had tested negative.

"I am disturbed by highly misleading information circulating in social media that I together with 16 other members of parliament have tested Convid-19 positive. I will continue to undergo voluntary precautionary tests in the coming days. In the unfortunate event of positive results, I will truthfully and bravely make such information public," Mr Osotsi said.

He said parliament should be undeterred in carrying out its constitutional roles of oversight, representation and legislation. "Parliaments globally are designed to work even in times of war," Mr Osotsi said.

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