Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, who is the Speaker of Parliament, has said nobody can unilaterally disclose the health status of another except the individual voluntarily does so.
The Speaker has, therefore, sent a word of caution to members of parliament not to be in a hurry to mention any Parliamentarian who may have been infected with COVID-19.
The Speaker’s caution comes after Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, the Minority Chief Whip, revealed that those two legislators and 13 staff of parliament have, indeed, tested positive for COVID-19 after the legislators and parliamentary staff underwent mandatory testing.
On Wednesday, 27 May 2020, Prof Oquaye, while speaking in Parliament, said: “You cannot unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive, let everybody know this, let every lady and gentleman, every person know this in this Republic, and it has been well-stated in this Honourable House. You cannot unilaterally put in the public realm that a person is positive”.
“It is only for an individual to voluntarily, put it in the public realm and we are all learning from this as decent and honourable people and this Honourable House will follow that line of example, that is our public duty,” the speaker stated on the floor of the house.
“If you allow me to quote from what Honourable Dr Oko Boye said: ‘We should show that we are not in a hurry to disclose names worthy of a headline and it is my view that such sensationalism, what is going on must stop, because they rather encourage stigmatisation’. When you sensationlise news, you encourage stigmatization”, he further said.
The Director of Public Affairs, Kate Addo, on Tuesday, denied reports that some MPs and staff had contracted the virus.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who is the Majority Leader of Parliament, also, said he was not aware that any member of the legislature had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Speaking at a press conference later in the day, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said: “What we agreed to do was that anybody who tested positive, the information will not be transmitted to all of us. It is between the person and the people who did the test. Some confidentiality is required”.
But, Muntaka Mubarak, the Minority Chief Whip, confirmed the information saying: “This is what happens when they finished the testing. Initially, they were calling one-on-one and they had this discussion with us…that: ‘Look, the numbers are huge, this is what we want to do; can you put on your platform that all those who do not receive calls from us [but were] tested on Wednesday, if by Saturday you have not received a call from us, they should assume they’re negative and we’ll only call those who are positive.’”
He continued: “When they tested Wednesday and Thursday, on Wednesday, one MP and one staff tested positive and on Thursday, one MP and 12 staff tested positive. They have to do contact-tracing; they have to isolate these persons.”
Asked in an interview on an Accra-based TV station if the infected MPs and staff had been isolated, Mr Muntaka answered: “Yes. So far as I’m concerned, that has been done and they are now continuing with the contact-tracing…”