The ongoing Assembly Budget session is turning out to be a fertile hunting ground for the Sars-CoV-2 virus. Already four MLAs, and one journalist, who have been attending the current session have been declared positive.
Neyyatinkara MLA K Ansalan and Koyilandi MLA K Dasan, both of CPM, were the first MLAs to fall for COVID-19 after the session began on January 8. Both are admitted to the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College hospital. CPM-backed independent and film actor M Mukesh and CPI's E S Bijimol were declared positive on Monday. Their source of infection is not clear.
Both Mukesh and Bijimol were present in the Assembly during longest ever Budget speech in history on January 15.
Not even MLAs who were seated close to Mukesh and Bijimol have been asked to go into quarantine. The MLAs who sat in close proximity to the affected MLAs were present in the House on Monday. "There is no such protocol of going into quarantine these days," the Speaker's office said.
It is by now known that even asymptomatic carriers spread the virus.
Minister for culture A K Balan was under treatment for COVID-19 when the session began. It was the threat of the virus spread that prompted Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan to abridge the session. Originally scheduled till January 28, the session was shortened to January 22.
The Assembly hall is closed and air-conditioned, conditions said to be favourable for the spread of the virus. Nearly 50 per cent of the members are over 60 and many suffer from comorbidities.
All the members were subjected to COVID test before the session had begun.