Amid the exponential rise of COVID-19 cases in the country, India's Parliament has, on Monday, assembled for the first time in six months for its monsoon session and the leadership of both the chambers had installed extensive preventive measures on the floors and on the premises to ensure to prevent the spread of the global pandemic while the opposition parties have formulated the agendas to attack the ruling party on the range of existing issues from the pandemic, economy, and border tensions.
All the members of both the houses are mandated to get tested for COVID-19, 72 hours prior to the start of the session and they have been directed to enter their respective chambers by having a negative report for COVID-19. However, prior to the session on Monday, it came to light that as many as 25 members of the Lok Sabha (lower house) had confirmed to have contracted to COVID-19, which had sent shockwaves on the green floor that was filled by the members directly elected by people.
According to reports, of these 25 members, 12 members belong to the BJP while the rest belong to Shiv Sena, DMK, and YSR Congress. The members had got tested for the virus at the Parliament House on September 13 and 14. The current monsoon session will run for 18 days and it will also set an unprecedented mark of being the first session for many factors. As the session has been convened in the middle of the strongest wave of the global pandemic, the MPs have been mandated to wear masks during the session.
The monsoon session will run through two different shifts for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the first time. The Upper house would be convening in the morning from 9 am to 1 pm while the lower house would be convening in the evening from 3 pm to 7 pm during the course of the session and in between the two shifts, the entire chambers will be sanitized and with the view of ensuring social distancing protocols, the houses have been made with the special seating arrangements.
The members were seated enclosed with the glass partitions installed to curb the spread. With the stringent directive to stick to the social distancing norms, the arrangements have been made to sanitize and disinfect various parliamentary papers, vehicles, and footwear of the members.
The reports say that the two houses together have more than 780 members currently and as per the standard operating procedures (SOP), the members, the staff of both the houses, and media personnel covering the proceedings have been directed to take COVID-19 tests, 72 hours prior to the start of the session.
The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) will be providing the multi-utility COVID-19 kits to the members and each kit would contain 40 disposable masks, five N-95 masks, 20 bottles of sanitizers of 50 ml each, face shields, 40 pair of gloves, a touch-free hook to open and close doors without touching them, and herbal sanitation wipes, and tea bags to boost their immunity to counter the foreign pathogens.
The Parliament has been convened at a high time when the country has neared the tally of 5 million COVID-19 cases so far. According to the Union Health Ministry, India has reported 83,809 fresh cases in the last 24 hours till Tuesday morning 8 am which taken the tally to 4.93 million so far. The country had also witnessed 1,054 fresh deaths in the last 24 hours taking the death toll over 80,000. India is the second-worst affected country in the world by the pandemic after the United States.