Twenty-three of the 117 MLAs in Punjab have tested positive for the coronavirus two days ahead of Friday’s Assembly session, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday, according to the Hindustan Times. The state is testing all its MLAs ahead of the one-day session.
In a video conference with chief ministers of seven non-National Democratic Alliance states, Singh said that he has asked legislators to bring a Covid-negative report before they enter the Assembly on Friday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also part of the meeting.
Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana KP Singh said that a final tally would be available by Thursday evening.
“If this is the state of legislators and ministers, one can only imagine how grave the situation is on the ground [in the state],” Singh was quoted as saying by NDTV. “The scenario is not conducive to holding physical examinations.” The chief minister was referring to the Centre’s decision to hold the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and the Joint Entrance Examination amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Various ministers from the state Cabinet, besides legislators, have been diagnosed with the virus. State Rural Development Minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa was the first to be infected but he has recovered. Jails and Co-operation Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Revenue Minister Gurpreet Kangar, Industries Minister Sham Sunder Arora and Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti also tested positive.
Other Congress MLAs who were diagnosed with the coronavirus are Hardyal Kamboj, Pargat Singh and Madan Lal Jalalpur. Shiromani Akali Dal MLAs Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal, Manpreet Singh Ayali, Gurpartap Singh Wadala, Kanwarjit Singh Rozy Barkandi and Harinderpal Singh Chandumajra, and Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Manjeet Singh Bilaspur and Kulwant Singh Pandori are among those who have been found positive.
The one-day Assembly session on August 28 has been called as it is a constitutional requirement to do so within six months of the previous session, according to The Tribune. Several ordinances, including Punjab Clinical Establishment Ordinance, Punjab Good Conduct Prisoners Rules, amendments in the Goods and Services Tax and a motion to reject three farm ordinances moved by the central government, are expected to be picked up during the session.
The state has reported 44,577 Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday morning, according to the Union health ministry. The active cases stood at 14,254, while 29,145 patients have recovered. The toll was 1,178.