Malaysia’s parliament may be closed if COVID-19 infections are detected, says speaker

(CNA) – Malaysia’s parliament building will be ordered to close should there be positive cases of COVID-19 infection, Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun said on Wednesday (Nov 4).

“If there were positive cases at parliament, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will make an evaluation of the appropriate standard operating procedures (SOP),” he said in a statement that was read out by deputy speaker Azalina Othman Said.

The parliament is currently in session, with the tabling of the 2021 budget scheduled to be held on Friday.

This week’s session has been cut short after staff in the Upper House tested positive for COVID-19. Daily sessions are only held from 10am to 1pm.

On Monday, Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said seven individuals were found to be COVID-19 positive from a screening conducted prior to the parliament meeting and the subsequent contact tracing.

Malaysia is currently in a third surge of COVID-19 cases and the national tally has surpassed 34,000 cases.

In his statement, the speaker said all Members of Parliament (MPs) have also been advised to limit their movements while being inside or outside the parliament building throughout the session.

The advice was issued by the MOH as a precautionary measure following the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, he added.

“Following the recent surge of COVID-19 cases, preventive measures have been and are being taken to ensure that the Dewan Rakyat sitting can be held safely,” he said.

Mr Azhar said the MPs should also avoid socialising or attending gatherings, avoid crowded places and always comply with the stipulated SOP.

He said the MOH also advised all MPs to not hold any feast or meeting with a large number of attendees inside or outside the parliament building.

“If the Honourable Members need to physically meet or gather, they are required to strictly comply with the SOP set by the National Security Council and the MOH,” he said.

Mr Azhar added that all MPs and parliament staff were also required to take the COVID-19 test every two weeks and the notification on the matter would be issued by the parliament administration from time to time.