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PLP will not attend House today

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition will not attend today’s sitting of the House of Assembly after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, Leader of Opposition Business Picewell Forbes said last night.

Forbes said Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis tried unsuccessfully to contact Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis regarding the issue.

The Central and South Andros MP said given the potential contact the positive case had with parliamentarians, the House should not meet and those who were exposed should be quarantined and potentially tested. 

“The public is advised that in light of a reported positive COVID-19 test result by a House staff, opposition House members have taken the decision not to attend the next sitting of the House scheduled for Wednesday, 16th September, 2020,” Forbes said.

“We believe this decision to be in line with the current COVID-19 health protocols.

“The leader of the opposition tried unsuccessfully to reach the prime minister about the resumption of Parliament tomorrow because we believe that in the circumstance, parliamentarians would be sending the wrong message to the Bahamian people and potentially expose House members to an unnecessary risk.

“The opposition leader also sent a note to the prime minister on this matter at the time of this release but got no response.

“Further, the established protocols in these circumstances require the closure of the venue in question, followed by deep cleaning or sanitizing of the same.

“Additionally, all who would have come into contact with the infected person would be asked to quarantine for 14 days and perhaps secure a COVID-19 test.”

Forbes noted that House Speaker Halson Moultrie indicated that “he would get tested and advise House members to do the same”.

“In light of the foregoing, I urge the government to revisit this decision,” Forbes said.

The House last met on September 9. The only opposition members present were Forbes and Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper. 

Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin and Davis, who recently recovered from COVID-19, were absent.

In statement yesterday, the Cabinet Office said the Senate and the House of Assembly were deep cleaned and sanitized following the revelation.

“The Ministry of Health has initiated contact tracing to determine the level of exposure to employees, and all other protocols are being followed,” it read.

“Persons who interacted with the employee, without following the preventative measures of wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and limiting the time spent with the employee to less than 15 minutes will be required to quarantine.” 

The Cabinet Office noted that the House will meet today for a “short session with a reduced number of members physically in attendance”.

A quorum of the House consists of 10 members.

Moultrie told The Guardian yesterday: “…I believe we are the leaders and we should set the example and lead by example.

“The health protocols call for self-quarantine if you haven’t tested positive but you’ve been exposed. And so, that would be my recommendation as the speaker.”

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