Two Congress MLAs — Shutrana MLA Nirmal Singh Shutrana and Zira MLA Kulbir Singh Zira — tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday after attending obituary references in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha as the House met for a one-day session. Both MLAs had met Punjab CM Amarinder Singh in the morning. The CM has now decided to go into a seven-day quarantine as per health protocol. As many as 55 MLAs, including Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and nine other ministers, participated in the session Friday.
Talking to The Indian Express, Zira said he had undergone an antigen test in the morning before entering the Assembly.
“I was negative. I went to the Assembly and met most of the MLAs, ministers and even Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal. After the obituary references, during the second sitting, I got a call from the doctors in Zira that I had tested positive. I had given a sample in Zira two days ago. I came out immediately and got myself tested from a private lab. The Health Department also took my sample. Both these reports have now come back positive. Otherwise, I do not have any symptoms.”
Zira was seen meeting the CM in the Assembly Hall, though both had their masks on. A spokesperson of the CM said the meeting was “very brief”.
Questioning his own government’s testing, he said, “This is so strange. I got tested and I did not get the report even after two days. Then I called up Health Minister Balbir Sidhu and he organised an antigen test for me today morning. That report was negative. I have given my sample five times in three days.”
Row over Zira’s test report
Hours after Zira alleged that he was not given a report by the Health Department till Friday afternoon, government authorities said that a “positive report” was given to him on Thursday. A copy of his Trunat report dated August 27 is with The Indian Express, but the MLA has categorically denied being intimated about it before the Assembly session.
Heath officials, who did not wish to be named, said that Health Minister Balbir Sidhu was intimated Friday that Zira was informed about him testing positive on Thursday itself.
However, the Health Minister refused to comment on the issue.
Zira told The Indian Express that the Health Minister confronted him over the matter on a phone call in the evening, asking him if he knew about the report.
“I asked him (Health Minister) for proof. They should show me when they sent it and who sent it to me. I got a call from the SMO concerned on my phone in the afternoon (Friday) that I had tested positive. Before that I did not know.”
Second MLA felt feverish during session
Shutrana, who had got himself tested on August 26 and had got a negative report, developed fever while sitting in the Assembly Hall during the obituary references.
He said, “I was tested on thermal scanners before entering the Assembly. I felt febrile when the obituary references started. As soon as the House was adjourned after the first sitting, I got out and reached the MLAs hostel. I was advised testing. I gave the sample and after a few minutes, the report came out positive. I was surprised and I told the doctors that I was negative just two days ago. They told me this can happen.”
Leader of Opposition Harpal Singh Cheema said that while AAP MLAs who had Covid negative report were kept outside the House by the Speaker, Rana KP Singh, a Congress MLA who had Covid symptoms was allowed inside the House.
“This has put the lives of many others at risk. While I and my fellow MLAs were stopped on false pretexts of drivers or gunmen testing positive, here is a Congress MLA who was Covid positive yet he was sitting inside the House,” said Cheema.
However, Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh said, “But these MLAs are not at fault. They had tested negative before entering the Vidhan Sabha. Their contact tracing is being done.”
(WITH INPUTS FROM ENS, CHANDIGARH )
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