Nineteen lawmakers have tested positive for coronavirus in the recent PCR tests coordinated by the Federal Parliament Secretariat.
The tests were conducted at the Federal Parliament building from May 5 to 7 as the House of Representatives session had been summoned for May 10.
According to Secretariat Spokesperson Dr Rojnath Pandey, 19 lawmakers including one member from the National Assembly have tested positive.
A total of 205 lawmakers underwent the tests. Prior to this, nine HoR members had tested positive for the virus.
They are currently under medical care. With the latest test results, the number of COVID-infected lawmakers has reached 28.
Apart from this, 141 others, including Secretariat employees, marshals, private secretaries, security personnel, members of Parliamentary Journalists Society, and the International Convention Centre’s staff tested positive.
Tests were conducted on 1,030 individuals.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is scheduled to seek a vote of confidence in the HoR session summoned for May 10.
President Bidhya Devi Bhandari had summoned the session on the given day as the prime minister deemed it necessary to show that he had the confidence of the Lower House.
How to include the infected lawmakers in the session is the challenge of the hour.
One of the ways is to provide separate rooms to them so that they can participate in the vote with the help security people wearing PPEs.
The session has drawn widespread concern as it is taking place at a time when the infection rate has been hitting daily new records.
Nepal on Saturday reported 53 deaths and 8,287 new cases of coronavirus, taking the tally of infections to 385,890. Of them, 756 were children and teenagers below 19 years of age.
As many as 195 of the newly infected are children below nine years of age and 561 are in the age group 10 to 19.
On Saturday noon however, in an interview with CNN, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that the COVID situation was under control in Nepal and his government was taking “serious measures” to supply oxygen and hospital beds.
Oli, who has been criticised for doing little to contain the pandemic, also went on to blame the people for the rapid surge in virus cases saying that he had controlled the pandemic last year and that is why people became more negligent this year.
A few hours after Oli’s claim, the Health Ministry announced that its plan to bring in 5 million doses of vaccine had been aborted for now, and the country recorded 53 COVID deaths in 24 hours.
A week ago, on May 3, Prime Minister Oli had urged foreign donors to supply vaccines and critical care medicines to prevent a collapse of the small country’s creaky health infrastructure.
“I would like to request our neighbours, friendly countries and international organisations to help us with vaccines and critical care medicines …to support ongoing efforts to combat the pandemic,” Oli had said in a televised address.
But when he was given an international platform to report the world about Nepal’s grievances, Oli took the opportunity to blame the public and boast his achievements in containing the virus’s spread.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, agency representing the global humanitarian network, on May 5 had said that Nepal was recording 57 times as many cases as a month ago, with 44% of tests now coming back positive.
“What is happening in India right now is a horrifying preview of Nepal’s future if we cannot contain this latest COVID surge that is claiming more lives by the minute,” said Netra Prasad Timsina, chair of the Nepal Red Cross.
“It is beyond distressing to see that people cannot say goodbye to their loved ones as cremations are taking place at record levels due to these new COVID variants, which are striking down people of all ages in Nepal.”