New Delhi: Ahead of the Budget session of Parliament, a total of 875 staff members have tested COVID-19 positive in the House so far, said official sources on Sunday.
As per official sources, as many as 2,847 COVID-19 tests were conducted till January 20, out of which, 875 parliamentary staff members had tested positive.
Of these, a total of 915 tests were done by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, out of which 271 cases found positive against coronavirus infection.
On Sunday afternoon, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also tested positive for COVID-19 in Hyderabad and said that he has isolated himself.
Taking to Twitter, the Vice President of India said, "The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu, who is in Hyderabad, tested COVID positive today. He has decided to remain in self-isolation for a week. He has advised all those who came in contact with him to isolate themselves and get tested." The Rajya Sabha chairman also tested positive against coronavirus disease during the second wave in the mid of 2021.
The Vice President has given clear instructions to conduct as many tests as possible and to also ensure that all help is provided to the secretariat officials including any need of medical facilities and hospitalisation for the staff and family members.
Further, Rajya Sabha Secretariat has reimposed restrictions on the attendance of officials and staff to decrease the COVID-19 cases.
As per the directions, 50 per cent of officials and staff below the rank of Under Secretary or Executive officer are required to work from home till the end of this month. They constitute about 65 per cent of the total employees.
Those with disabilities and pregnant women are exempted from attending office. Starting and closing timings of the Secretariat are staggered to avoid crowding, according to the latest order.
Notably, the monsoon session in 2020 was the first full session held under COVID-19 protocols with the Rajya sabha meeting in the first half of the day and Lok sabha during the second half. The same was followed for the first part of the Budget session during 2021.
For the second part of the Budget session and monsoon and winter sessions last year, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha reverted to normal timings but members sitting in the chambers and galleries of respective Houses.
Given the rising number of cases in India during the ongoing third surge of COVID-19 infection, the Budget session of Parliament slated to begin in a week is likely to happen with strict COVID protocols in place.
Meanwhile, from January 4 to 8, around 65 of Rajya Sabha Secretariat, 200 of Lok Sabha Secretariat and 133 of allied services had tested COVID positive.
The budget session of Parliament will be underway from January 31 and will conclude on April 8.
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