Speaker of Parliament Michael Aaron Oquaye on Wednesday issued a caution against public declaration of the status of any one tested in the covid-19 mandatory testing exercise done in the House last week.
His caution comes in the wake of a report by an Accra radio station, that two Members of Parliament (MPs) and 13 Members of Staff of the House had tested positive of the virus following the exercise.
That announcement was denied at a joint press conference in the Parliament House, Accra by the Majority Leader, and the Acting Director of Public Affairs and the Director of Medical Affairs of the House who asked the station to retract the report.
However, Minority Chief Whip Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak said in a television interview challenged the denial, and standing firmly by the report, said that the infected persons were informed of their status after the test, adding that they were isolated as contact tracing had also started.
Speaker Oquaye in a comment on a statement in the House by Dr Mark Kurt Nawwane, MP for Nabdam and Member of the Health Committee, on “stigmatization, discrimination and fear of recovered Covid-19 patients,” said it is unacceptable for anyone to unilaterally declare the test results of covid-19 persons in public, and urged individuals, including; MPs to stop such acts.”
The statement related the ordeal, including; negative branding of Covid-19 recovered patients and the challenges of being accepted back into society.
Issuing the caution, Speaker Oquaye noted that such sensationalism fueled stigmatization.
He said: “It is clear from our discussions this morning that you cannot unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive.
“Let everybody know this. Every lady and gentleman, every person knows this in this republic and it has been well stated in this honourable House. You cannot unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive.”
He added that it is “only for an individual to voluntarily put this in the public realm and we are all learning from this as decent and honourable people and this House will follow that kind of example. That’s our public duty.
“… We should show that we are not in a hurry to disclose names worthy of a headline and it is my view that such sensationalism which is going on must stop because they rather encourage stigmatization. When you sensationalize the news, you encourage stigmatization.”