MPs Duncan, Jones acted recklessly by attending Parliament – Health Minister

L-R: Sherod Duncan and Christopher Jones

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has contended that the two opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) who were tested positive for COVID-19 have acted recklessly as they have endangered the lives of others when they chose to physically participate in Tuesday’s parliamentary session.

APNU/AFC’s MPs Sherod Duncan and Christopher Jones had both tested positive for Covid-19 and yet, they still attended parliament, without informing the Clerk of the National Assembly of their diagnosis.

Dr Anthony reminded that prior to the convening of the Twelfth Parliament on Tuesday, the Clerk Sherlock Isaacs had written to all parliamentarians notifying them that if they were tested positive for the virus, they should not attend the sitting in-person; they should do so virtually.

Dr Anthony asserted that as Minister of Health he had an obligation to notify the Clerk that both Jones and Duncan had tested positive for the virus.

Both Jones and Duncan would have interacted with a number of parliamentarians as well as ancillary staffers. It was reported that Jones had a private meeting with Speaker Manzoor Nadir and Clerk Isaacs.

“What we had yesterday was two Members of Parliament who have tested positive and instead of staying in self-isolation as is required by the Order and is required by the law, decided that they are going to breach those orders and law that we have and attend Parliament in person,” the Health Minister via a video released by DPI on Wednesday.

Dr Anthony reminded that the law clearly states that if anyone knowingly spreads an infectious disease, that person has committed an offense.

“From the information that I have received…they (Jones and Duncan) were tested, they were advised that they should have stayed home for at least thirteen days, the first ten, and then the second three once they were asymptomatic, that they would then finish their home isolation,” he explained.

According to Dr Anthony, both Jones and Duncan were still supposed to be in home isolation.

“At the time when they got the positive test to when Mr Jones and Mr Duncan were in Parliament; it’s within that timeframe, so both of them would have breached the rules that we have for self-quarantine,” the Health Minister asserted.

“So this is unacceptable behaviour. It is very highly irresponsible for them to know that they gave a positive test and yet show up in the Parliament.”

“And as the Minister of Health, when I see that the public is put in danger in such a way, then I have a right to inform the relevant authority, and in this case, it’s the persons who are managing the Parliament. That is why the Clerk was informed yesterday,” Dr Anthony contended.

“So I hope they would stay at home, self-quarantine and stop endangering the lives of other Guyanese.”

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

The Health Minister further disclosed that he is following up with an official letter to the Clerk of the National Assembly because persons who would have been exposed to the two MPs would now have to take the necessary precautions.

Anthony explained that persons who were in very close proximity to the two persons may now be required to self-quarantine; and eventually after five to seven days, they may be asked to take a test.

In relation to Jones, the APNU/AFC Coalition issued a statement last evening saying that he was tested positive for COVID-19 more than 15 days ago. The Coalition also explained that Jones underwent the recommended period of self-isolation, and observed all protocols established by the Ministry of Health and his private health care professional.