MPs Who Attended PAC Meet Advised Self-quarantine after Staffer Tests Positive for Coronavirus

File photo of Parliament House.

File photo of Parliament House.

A call was made by Parliament to all the 15-plus MPs and other officers about the case and they were advised to go for self-quarantine.

Payal Mehta
  • CNN-News18
  • Last Updated: July 14, 2020, 7:57 PM IST
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A bit of a panic set in on Tuesday when Lok Sabha Secretariat informed members of the Department Related Standing Committee for Public Accounts that a joint director-level officer from the PAC Committee staff had tested positive on Tuesday.

A call was made by Parliament to all the 15-plus MPs and other officers about the case and they were advised to go for self-quarantine.

Immediately after receiving the information, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar put out a tweet saying he is going into self-quarantine for a week.

CNN News18 spoke exclusively to PAC Committee Chairman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary. He said, "I was informed and I immediately conveyed the same to the Lok Sabha speaker. As per the rules, I will be at home for the next seven days."

The Congress Lok Sabha floor leader also expressed concern over the large number of cases. "Cases are still very high... It will be a tough call to see how Parliament session can happen keeping everyone safe," he said.

DMK leader TR Baalu told CNN News18, "I attended the meeting and am back to my village... I will obey the protocol… I will quarantine myself. Each one of us was checked for temperature before we entered the meeting... Nobody being ill or having fever, etc, was reported that day."

Bhartuhari Mahtab from the BJD was also present in the meeting. "I have quarantined myself upon getting the information about the officer and wish the said officer well," he said.

Some BJP MPs, however, said they do not see the need for quarantine as of now.

Baghpat MP Dr Satyapal Singh told CNN News18, "I do not see how we could've caught infection. We were sitting at a very far off distance from the official. We were at the other end of this huge meeting room. At this time, I don’t see a reason to quarantine."

Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh told CNN News18, "Parliament has advised us to quarantine, but the distance between the said officer and where I was sitting was easily 100 to 150 feet away. Plus, I have done Covid tests practically each week. So I don't see why I should quarantine."

BJP MP from Surat Darshana Jardosh told CNN News18, "I came back to Surat from the meet and right at the airport, I was advised home quarantine since I came from a place which has a high caseload (Delhi). So, I have thankfully been in self-quarantine since my return."

Interestingly, the Lok Sabha Secretariat shows the names of those MPs who attended the meeting on July 10. The list includes the name of TMC deputy floor leader Sukhendu Sekhar Ray.

Upon being called by CNN News18 for a comment, Roy was shocked to see his name there.

Roy said, "I hope it was a mere clerical mistake. I did not attend the meeting. I did not deem it fit to travel to Delhi in the midst of this pandemic. I had informed my unavailability to committee chairman in writing too."

This comes in at a time when India has clocked over 9 lakh COVID-19 cases and a vaccine is nowhere in sight.

Also at a time when both Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman are holding meetings to see the best way to hold Parliament monsoon session ensuring the health and safety for once and for all.

The committee meetings were being seen as a dress rehearsal for the session to see if a full session can happen. Parliament abruptly had to be adjourned sine die on March 23 March as coronavirus cases were being seen on the rise.

Complete nationwide lockdown for three weeks was declared from that midnight by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The government will also have to look at calling for a session before September 23 – six months time must not exceed between two sessions as the rules state.

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