The Omicron Variant for COVID-19 seems to be making door-to-door visits to the Members of the Parliament (MP) because seven MPs have tested positive in succession.
The chairs in the parliaments are usually filled during this time of the year due to ongoing debates about the Government Budget, but they will be looking a little empty as the infection has proven time and time again that it will spare no one.
High salaries and first-priority to vaccinations can’t stand the virality of COVID-19, sorry.
Ms Indranee Rajah and Ms Sylvia Lim Tested Positive on Friday
Ms Indranee Rajah, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Second Minister for Finance and National Development, came down with COVID-19 on the morning of 4 March.
As a result, she had to miss the opening of the Sakura floral display at Gardens by the Bay on Friday.
The flowers will droop and wither in her absence.
On the same day, Ms Indranee made a post on Facebook, saying, “Thankfully the symptoms are mild. Very glad that I am fully vaccinated with both shots and booster.”
The minister had taken an antigen rapid test (ART) after two members of her family caught COVID-19, and lo and behold, it took her down too.
In her post, she voiced that she hoped that she will be able to return to the Parliament next week for the second reading of the Supply Bills.
Similarly, the Workers’ Party (WP) Chairman Sylvia Lim posted an image of her positive ART result, after a few days into her self-isolation.
The Aljunied GRC MP wrote, “After days of feeling lousy, it’s confirmed – I have it!”
View this post on Instagram
And no, the double lines do not mean she’s pregnant.
Ms Lim adds that she’s sorry for having to miss out on the Parliament debate, but she’s been following it real time on the MCI Singapore YouTube Channel.
The Other Fallen MPs
Besides the two prominent female parliament members, Nee Soon GRC MP Carrie Tan, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC MP Alex Yam, Tampines GRC MP Cheng Li Hui and Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh have also contracted COVID-19.
Last Sunday (27 Feb), Mr Gan announced in a Facebook post that he was recovering from throat tightness whilst self-isolating and recovering at home.
He informed The Straits Times on Friday that he wasn’t suffering from any serious symptoms because he has taken his booster shot.
“It’s regrettable that I’m unable to participate physically, but at least I was able to submit my speech. I appreciate the ministers who have taken note of my speeches and assured me that they will address it.”
No worries, Mr Gan, I’m sure reading speech transcripts is a lot faster than hearing them out loud.
On Tuesday (1 March), Ms Cheng declared on Facebook that her speech lines were “solid”, but she wouldn’t be able to “deliver [them] in this rasping voice” and break into “uncontrollable cough spasms” as she speaks.
The Tampines GRC MP seems to have caught the worst end of the Omicron symptoms compared to her other colleagues as she writes, “Omicron isn’t that mild, I don’t remember having such chills and dizziness.”
Meanwhile, Mr Yam looked better off as he posted a picture of his masked self with the parliament debate playing on one laptop while a word document was on the other.
Adorably enough, his young daughter photo bombs the picture with an impish grin at the back as she leans out from her own computer chair. An inflatable rubber duck can be seen on her screen, which only makes the entire scene even cuter.
Mr Yam stated that “C-monster” has kept him away from the Parliament chambers, but nothing is stopping him from keeping up with the debates live.
Following this, he hopes that his fellow MPs and colleagues will make a swift recovery from the C-monster as well.
Last but not the least, the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Alvin Tan, published a post of Facebook on Thursday (3 March), stating that he has tested positive for COVID-19 after his own seven-year-old daughter succumbed to the virus.
He attaches a “Happy Birthday” image to his post, writing that it’s his daughter’s birthday today, but the family is ironically having a get-together because her older brother has tested positive as well.
… You have a valid reason to spend more precious time with your family, I guess…?
Apart from Ms Lim, two other Workers’ Party MPs were absent this week as well, namely Sengkang GRC MPs Louis Chua and He Ting Ru.
The Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh asserted that they were self-isolating because of their exposure to COVID-19. Mr Chua managed to re-join the Parliamentary debate earlier this Friday.
Safety Measures in the Parliament Chambers
Due to the clustered outbreak among the MPs, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament said that “safety management measures and precautions have been put in place so the parliamentary proceedings can continue.”
The political machinations of the government must continue regardless.
The pre-existing measures include being masked at all times unless being called to speak in the Chamber, maintaining a safe social distance, keeping to split team arrangements, and rigorously adhering to the appropriate testing regime.
The MPs have already been spread across the Chamber, the Speakers’ Gallery and Press Gallery notwithstanding.
Additionally, MPs have to self-test before attending the parliamentary debates.
Prior to this, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How and Security for Culture, Community and Youth, Eric Chua had come down with the virus as well.
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