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Monsoon session Day 1: Around 25 MPs, 40 support staff test positive for Covid, says report

These Covid positive cases emerged from the testing of more than 2,500 samples of MPs and and Parliament's staff taken by ICMR over the weekend, say sources


New Delhi: Around 25 Members of Parliament (MPs) and around 40 people working in the Parliament have tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, government sources said. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) carried out testing of more than 2.500 samples of MPs and other officials and Parliament's staff over the weekend. According to officials in the Union Health Ministry, all the MPs and employees at the secretariats of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were made to undergo covid-19 tests before the much-awaited monsoon session of the Parliament began.

“A team from ICMR was in the parliament for supervision. The officials of the Delhi government’s health department were there for collecting samples. The RT-PCR tests were done in the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR) Noida. We did the testing on war footing over the weekend. As per the health ministry’s protocols, the Covid positive people have been asked to stay in quarantine and asked not to attend the Parliament," said a senior ICMR official.

The monsoon session is being held in two shifts. The Rajya Sabha began its Day One at 3.00 pm with 15 newly elected, re-elected members taking oath/affirmation. For the first time in the history of Indian Parliament, both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha halls have been used for the sitting of one house at a time to enable members to fully adhere to social distancing norms. "The Rajya Sabha now includes not only its own Chamber and Galleries but also the Chamber of the Lok Sabha," the government said in an official statement.

Some Parliamentarians took to twitter to announce their Covid-19 status. MP Meenakshi lekhi tweeted, “After the routine Parliament test for COVID & genome test it’s confirmed that I have tested positive for the virus. I am currently in good health & spirits. I request everyone who has been recently in contact with me to get tested. Together We will fight & defeat Corona."

Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) MP Hanuman Beniwal too has tested positive for Covid-19.

“I have tested #Covid19 positive today. I am doing well & taking doctors advice," said BJP lawmaker Sukanta Majumdar on Twitter on Sunday.

The Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the country as the total tally of cases reached 4,85,8815 on Monday and the deaths due to the highly infectious disease reached 80,218. As the country is currently under Unlock 4 phase, more than 60% of the active cases have been concentrated in five States --Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. These states are also reporting 60% of the total recovered cases.

The union health ministry said that 92,071 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country. Maharashtra continues to contribute a high number of new cases. In the last 24 hours it has reported more than 22,000 new cases. Andhra Pradesh has contributed more than 9,800 new cases.

Of the latest fatalities in the last 24 hours, nearly 53% are concentrated in three states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh. These are followed by Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. More than 36% of deaths reported on Sunday are from Maharashtra (416), the health ministry said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday in a suo-moto statement in the parliament regarding government’s steps to deal with covid-19 pandemic that the decision of nationwide lockdown prevented approximately 14–29 lakh Covid-19 cases and 37,000–78,000 Covid-related deaths in India.

“India has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million to 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries," said Harsh Vardhan adding that in India about 92% of the cases are reported to be having mild disease. In only about 5.8 % of cases where oxygen therapy is required and the disease may be severe enough to require intensive care in only 1.7% cases," he said.

The government has been continuing with the community surveillance that was initiated initially for travel related cases and subsequently for cases being reported from community by Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP). “As on 11th September, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance and extensive contact tracing of all positive cases is regularly being undertaken through disease surveillance network so as to break the chain of transmission," said Harsh Vardhan adding that total of 12,826 quarantine centres with 5,98,811 beds have been created.

“We have now moved from ‘managing travel related cases’ to containing clusters and large outbreaks due to local transmission to wide spread of infection to urban, peri-urban and rural areas. This would require concerted effort by the Government with people’s participation to prevent large scale morbidity and mortality," he said.