‘Parly in breach of WHO COVID-19 testing policies’

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Lift lockdown in phases

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee chairperson Ruth Labode on Tuesday said Parliament policy on COVID-19 testing and isolation was not in sync with World Health Organisation guidelines.

Labode raised this as a point of privilege with the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, after 23 MPs tested positive for the pandemic, including nine that tested positive last month.

“My concern Mr Speaker is that 23 MPs tested positive, among those there are about nine or so who have already tested positive and were isolated for two weeks and are supposed to be free because they now have antibodies in their bodies to protect them,” Labode said.

“The Speaker says these people will be tested again and the outcome will be 30 MPs, including those who are free from COVID-19,” she said.Labode said if COVID-19 entered one’s body, the antibodies fight it for almost five weeks.

“The Ministry of Health says after 14 days, if you have no symptoms you are free and do not need to be retested.

“If we continue to increase the number of MPs who are going away for isolation as Parliament policy, we will end up closing Parliament.

“This will be so because the ones you will have tested and were positive will not test negative because they have immunity, they have developed those antibodies,” she said.

“In Europe, a COVID-19 vaccine is being developed from antibodies of those who were cured and they are injecting them on people so that when they come across COVID-19, they will not be infected.

“I had COVID-19 myself, but I am diabetic and asthmatic. I had a negative result because I did not develop a lot of antibodies. The fact that I tested negative over a short period of time — three weeks — it means I may not have developed strong enough antibodies,” she said.

Labode said WHO guidelines stated that 10 days after the symptoms onset plus three days, a person should be considered free of COVID-19, and shall not be retested because re-infection is considered next to impossible.

Mudenda said Parliament would study the WHO and national COVID-19 testing and isolation policies to ensure compliance.