8 persons COVID-19 positive during mandatory tests for Assembly session, scare leads to further reducing duration

After remaining closed for six months, the West Bengal Legislative Assembly will reopen on Wednesday. However, the session will be held for only one day unlike it was planned earlier. The reason for the one-day session is the scare over COVID-19 pandemic which was aggravated on Tuesday by the fact that several reports of those who had got themselves tested for entry into the Assembly premises turned out to be positive.

Speaker Biman Banerjee had announced that all MLAs, employees and journalists would have to get tested at the Assembly premises before they entered the main building for the session. Rapid antigen tests – that give the outcome within half an hour – done on Tuesday indicated that eight persons were COVID-19 positive. Four of these were of police personnel.

However, the session will have to be held mandatorily because of constitutional rules. The Left parties and the Congress are however, not in favour of not holding the sessions for such a short time, and feel the rights of the Opposition are being curbed. The ruling party leaders on the other hand insisted that the unusual situation caused by the pandemic had led to such a decision.

COVID-19 test for all those to attend the Assembly session started on Tuesday. Banerjee had made the announcement last week and mentioned other measures and precautions to be taken.

A medical team comprising doctors are present in the state Assembly premises. Only after the reports are out, will the persons tested be allowed to enter the main building. Doctors at the venue are suggesting the next course of action if someone tests positive. The Speaker had said that social distancing must be maintained for the session, and seats have been arranged accordingly, and marked for all MLAs with their names, numbers and name of Assembly constituencies. MLAs will be allowed to enter 10 minutes ahead, so that they can locate their seats (they will also be given a detailed copy of seating arrangement) and the session can start on time.

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