Postpone all Parliament activities over two-week period from July 29, says Health DG

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has recommended for all activities in Parliament House to be postponed over a two-week period from July 29.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was based on a health risk assessment and to prevent transmission of Covid-19 in Parliament.

"The Health Ministry is suggesting that all meetings involving parliamentary select committees, special select committees and the briefing sessions that were planned in Parliament, as well as those involving individuals who were at Parliament from July 26 to 29, should be suspended temporarily for two weeks starting July 29.

"The risk assessment for Covid-19 infection in Parliament will be looked into again from time to time," he said in a statement on Sunday (Aug 1).

The Dewan Rakyat special sitting on Aug 2 was postponed indefinitely due to the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

Dr Noor Hisham added the both the government and the Opposition had agreed that the five-day special sitting would be stopped immediately if a positive case was detected among those physically attending Parliament.

He said the agreement was made on Monday (July 26) at 8am in a meeting attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker and other representatives from both the government and the Opposition.

He said the Health Ministry had given them two options, the first of which was to postpone the special sitting until the vaccination coverage was at least 40%, especially in the Klang Valley.

The second option was for the sitting time to be shortened and for it to be stopped immediately if there was a Covid-19 case detected.

"The meeting, including the representatives from the political parties, decided to implement the second option," he said.

He added that the Health Ministry was informed on July 29 at 12.30pm that there were two Covid-19 cases in Parliament.

After conducting an RTK-Antigen self-test, it was found that there were another nine cases, which brought the total number of Covid-19 cases in Parliament to 11.

Dr Noor Hisham said that the Parliament sitting was a high-risk gathering, which had the potential to become a superspreader event.

“There are six cases (the first case and five confirmatory cases following the RT-PCR tests) that have high infectivity rates (or low cycle-threshold value) and that are symptomatic, and which have the potential to become 'superspreader'.

“Although the number of positive cases detected during the Parliament sitting is 0.8%, the risk assessment found that taking into account epidemiological and environmental factors, the Parliament sitting is a high-risk gathering,” he said.

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