House of Assembly Speaker Halson Moultrie confirmed yesterday that a third member of his staff and another member of Parliament (MP) have tested positive for COVID-19.
“I am only aware of three members of Parliament and three members of staff,” Moultrie said of those in Parliament who would have contracted COVID-19 this month.
The latest cases come two weeks after an employee of Parliament tested positive for COVID. That employee came into contact with every single member of Parliament who was present when the House of Assembly met on September 9, according to the speaker.
Moultrie said he was informed by Elizabeth MP Dr. Duane Sands last Tuesday that the MP had tested positive.
“I had indicated (in the parliamentary group) that there were five [cases] and he put a note in that he was aware of six,” Moultrie said.
“Of course, he is in the institution and information — in certain cases — would reach him because he may even be the doctor of record.
“I got the information from him on Tuesday when he posted it in the group and I later confirmed it with him.”
Moultrie said the MP was present when the House met on September 9.
So far, three parliamentary staffers and one MP have tested positive following the September 9 meeting.
Sands told The Nassau Guardian that the precincts of the House have a COVID attack rate that is “almost 10 times” its general population.
“I was not aware of what appropriate steps had been done to educate persons in the House of Assembly about their risks,” he said.
“I noted that, during my contribution, people were inconsistent in their wearing of face masks and other social distancing protocols and that the House of Assembly was not an appropriate place, nor the Senate, for the current [epidemiological] environment.
“I don’t think we should be still there.”
Sands said Parliament should be held in a different venue or a different manner.
“What’s at risk is the very institution of government,” said Sands, who served as minister of health until May.
“It threatens both the legislative branches of government.”
Moultrie said Sands suggested a review of the “entire circumstances and the possibility of institutional spread” within Parliament.
Asked whether that review happened, Moultrie said, “Not to the extent that Dr. Sands would’ve been suggesting. We’re still hoping to get a review of the circumstances done.”
He said the government has reduced the number of MPs who attend the meetings.
Moultrie said virtual meetings of the House are still being considered.
“Up to this time, I don’t see it on the agenda yet,” he said.
In August, Cat Island, Rum Cay and San Salvador MP Philip Brave Davis and Central and South Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson confirmed that they have both tested positive for COVID.
Senator Dr. Michael Darville also tested positive in August.