Testing positive for Covid-19: Staff, aides get House jitters as Parliament opens tomorrow

Parliament staff and officials accompanying MPs admit they are feeling uneasy as the Dewan Rakyat’s special sitting starts tomorrow.

This is because several Parliament staff and contractors had tested positive during a swab test carried out on Parliament grounds last Wednesday. Staff, who spoke to Twentytwo13, confirmed that instead of being asked to go back after the swab test, they were told to resume work.

“The results of the swab tests were released on Friday, but we were informed privately on who tested positive, and who tested negative. After speaking to some friends, we realised that we were in contact with some of them (after the swab tests were carried out) who had tested positive,” said a Parliament staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“In fact, we were told not to ‘heboh’ (make public) our results.

“It’s not just about the MPs. It’s about us, the support staff, and our families. Sadly, we were not given any assurances, and nothing was explained to us. We were just told that if we do not have any symptoms, we had to go back to work.”

The Dewan Rakyat Special Sitting will be held for five days, from July 26, while the Senate Sitting will be held for three days, from Aug 3.

Twentytwo13 sighted an email with the subject: ‘Kebenaran masuk bagi warga Parlimen yang baru pulih Covid’. The email, which was sent to Parliament staff on Friday at 8.37pm, stated that, based on the July 21 swab tests, there were those who had just recovered from Covid-19, but had still tested positive.

The email read: “Based on the presentation by the Health director-general (Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) during a Dewan Rakyat committee meeting on July 23, individuals who have just recovered from Covid-19, will still be detected as positive if they did a swab test within three months of their recovery date. The virus in their body, however, is not active, and they are not at risk of infecting others.”

“As such, the committee has decided that officials, staff, and contractors who have just recovered from Covid-19 and do not have any symptoms, can attend (to work) as usual by bringing their release order from the district health office, and show it at the roadblock in front of the Parliament’s main entrance. Those with symptoms are prohibited from coming to the office and must seek medical attention immediately.”

The email was signed off by Parliament’s head of security division, Radzi Jamaluddin. The email was confirmed by Parliament staff.

Another Parliament staff, who recovered from Covid-19 several weeks ago, hoped that the number of physical meetings involving the various committees would be done online.

“There are the special sittings involving the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara. Various committee meetings, to be held physically, have also been scheduled. There are staff and contractors who will have to set up the meeting rooms, and if it’s done online, at least those setting up the rooms will know there will only be a handful of people in the room, instead of full capacity. We also hope the timing will not be extended.

“After all, the National Security Council has said that all meetings should be done virtually,” the staff added.

“We just hope the decision makers will hear us out. There’s not been any explanation. We are just told what has been decided in meetings, and are supposed to just accept it, although it affects us more than anyone else.”

A supporting staff of an MP also voiced concern, adding that he knew several Parliament staff had tested positive for Covid-19.

“I’m no medical expert, but when things are not explained clearly, it creates a lot of anxiety. I’ve read that re-infection, although rare, is possible. And can those who have been re-infected with Covid-19 also infect others?

“I wished there was a proper briefing about this to allay our fears. We are heading back home to our families and the Covid-19 cases and deaths are no longer just statistics we read in the news. It’s infecting and killing those close to us.”

Parliament’s Chief Administrator, Nor Hayati Awang had, in a letter dated July 22, said all ministry officials and staff would only be allowed in the Parliament building if they had received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said a large majority of MPs had received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. He said four had yet to receive their shots, but they would be allowed to attend the Dewan Rakyat sittings. He did not name the four MPs.

Azhar also said that 1,008 people had been screened on Wednesday, while the MPs were tested on Friday.

Malaysia recorded 15,902 new Covid-19 cases yesterday.

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