The number of Covid-19 infections in Parliament has risen to 50, after two more MPs contracted the virus.

The House is among the government institutions hard hit by the pandemic, which prompted Speaker Justin Muturi to ban physical meetings last week.

Two lawmakers who were among the first to be infected have since recovered. The latest 48 cases include two MPs and 46 office staff, 10 of who are cleaners.

The revelation came on Thursday when members of the House Business Committee were being updated on the extent of the spread of the virus in Parliament.

The committee is a powerful organ comprising the house leadership and a few members, and prioritises the bills to be discussed in the house

A source who attended the meeting confirmed the numbers, saying Parliament is doing its best to contain any further spread.

“Most of the affected staff are asymptomatic and recovering at home,” the source said, adding that one of the affected MPs is from northern Kenya, while another is a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

TESTED POSITIVE

Two MPs who had earlier been confirmed to have tested positive have so far been discharged and are recovering from home.

During a special sitting last week, Speaker Muturi suspended all physical meetings until July 28 to allow for the fumigation of the premises by Ministry of Health officials.

“We continue to take necessary precautions to protect MPs, staff and visitors against Covid-19 infections,” Mr Muturi said.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai last week told the Nation that apart from the two MPs who had tested positive, they had not received any information regarding the lawmakers.

“So far we only have two cases of members as communicated by the Speaker and no new member has been reported to be unwell,” Mr Sialai said.

On the number of staff affected, Mr Sialai also said his office did not have the figures. “It is the Ministry of Health that conducted the tests, they are the ones with the figures,” Mr Sialai said.

After the first Covid-19 case was reported in the country in March, the National Assembly developed tough guidelines to cushion members against the coronavirus.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

They have to sanitise and observe social distancing, with the number allowed in the main chamber, which usually accommodates 349 MPs, reduced to 70 to ensure the distance between them is 1.5 metres.

The 70 seats in the chamber have been marked and numbered. Once in the chamber, MPs are not allowed to change seats or move close to one another, the Speaker or the clerks.

 As soon as a member leaves a set, it is disinfected together with the working surface, the electronic system, microphones and the chamber tablet.

The public galleries and diplomatic box are now being used by technical staff facilitating the sittings.

The Speaker designated the two members’ lounges and the dining hall as waiting areas for other MPs interested in participating in the proceedings.

In addition, MPs and parliamentary workers aged 58 and above, those with medical conditions as well as those who are expectant or lactating are working from home since they are deemed more vulnerable to infection.

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