The Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye says the sensationalism of media reportage over the status of COVID-19 patients in the country will lead to their stigmatisation.
According to the Speaker, disclosing the health status of another without that person’s express permission is unacceptable and called on those involved in such acts including MPs to put a stop to them.
The Speaker’s admonishing comes at a time, the House has been thrown into a state of fear after Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka disclosed that two MPs and 13 staff of parliament have, indeed, tested positive for COVID-19 after their mandatory testing.
“What happened in Parliament and what you heard [about reports of MPs testing positive] is the fact. It is the truth,” the Asawase MP said.
Giving further details in a later interview with ABC News, Alhaji Muntaka said “when they tested Wednesday and Thursday, on Wednesday, one MP and one staff tested positive and on Thursday, one MP and 12 staff tested positive. They have to do contact-tracing; they have to isolate these persons.”
But commenting on what appeared to be a contradiction among the leadership of the House, the Speaker said it was outrageous for MPs to rush to the media seeking to leak the COVID-19 status of their colleagues.
Prof Oquaye further added that such sensationalism leads to stigmatization of COVID-19 patients in the country.
“You cannot unilaterally put into the public realm that a person is positive, let everybody know this, let every lady and gentleman, every person know this in this Republic, and it has been well-stated in this Honourable House. You cannot unilaterally put in the public realm that a person is positive.”
“It is only for an individual to voluntarily, put it in the public realm and we are all learning from this as decent and honourable people and this Honourable House will follow that line of example, that is our public duty.”
“If you allow me to quote from what Honourable Dr. Okoe- Boye said: ‘We should show that we are not in a hurry to disclose names worthy of a headline and it is my view that such sensationalism, what is going on must stop because they rather encourage stigmatisation.’ When you sensationlise news, you encourage stigmatization,” Prof Oquaye said.