At least 25 parliamentarians tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday, the first day of Parliament’s Monsoon Session, reported News18. Of those who tested positive, 17 are members of the Lok Sabha and eight are from the Rajya Sabha.
Meenakshi Lekhi, Anant Kumar Hegde and Parvesh Sahib Singh were among the 24 MPs who have contracted the disease, according to ANI. “After the routine Parliament test for COVID & genome test it’s confirmed that I have tested positive for the virus,” tweeted Lekhi. “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.”
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said a large number of MPs attended the first day’s session. “It shows how strong the roots of democracy are,” he told NDTV. “The coming of MPs even in extraordinary circumstances is a big thing.”
In the Lok Sabha, close to 200 members attended first day’s session. Of these, more than 30 MPs were seated in the visitors’ gallery situated above the main chamber. Benches that usually accommodate six members had a staggered seating plan for just three. The MPs were separated by plastic shields installed in front of their benches.
The front seats of the treasury benches on the right of Speaker Om Prakash Birla’s podium were occupied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sitting on a seat marked as number one, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on seat number 2 and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on seat number 3. All members wore masks, and some wore face shields.
In the Rajya Sabha, the number of attendees were even less, showed a giant TV screen in the Lok Sabha chamber.
This is the first Parliament session to take place amid the coronavirus crisis. The precautions implemented for the session include different timings for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, with seating arrangements to ensure physical distancing. “There will be a four-hour session for each House each day [9 am to 1 pm for Rajya Sabha and 3 pm to 7 pm for Lok Sabha],” the Centre had said in a statement. “But on the first day only, the Lok Sabha will meet in the morning session.” The sittings will also take place on the weekends.
India’s coronavirus case count on Monday rose to 48,46,428 with 92,071 new cases. The toll rose by 1,136 to 79,722. As many as 37,80,108 people have recovered from the infection. Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, while addressing the Parliament, claimed that India has been able to limit its coronavirus cases and deaths.