Pakistani parliament's speaker tests positive for COVID-19 - GulfToday

Pakistani parliament's speaker tests positive for COVID-19


Asad Qaiser meets Imran Khan at PM House Islamabad. File

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

The speaker of Pakistan's National Assembly  (NA) Asad Qaiser has become the highest government functionary to test positive for the novel coronavirus.

"I have quarantined myself at home," Qaiser, who is also a close aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan, said on Twitter. 

Qaiser met with the prime minister on Monday, and has met several other leading figures during the past few days. The speaker had hosted an Iftar, the evening meal to break fast during Ramadan, attended by politicians and dignitaries on Monday.

NASpeakerPartyAsad Qaiser hosts Iftar dinner party in Islamabad. Twitter photo

Qaiser's son and daughter have also tested positive for the virus. The speaker urged the nation to take precautions and sought their prayers.
His announcement comes three days after Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, who like Qaiser belongs to the ruling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), tested positive for COVID-19.

Both Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla made telephone calls to the speaker to inquire after his health. They prayed for his early recovery. Mandviwalla also inquired after the health of his son and daughter.

Qaiser is the latest politician to have contracted the virus that has so far infected more than 16,000 people across Pakistan and killed 361.

Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Rana Hamir Singh had tested positive for the virus and a day earlier, independent Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi too was diagnosed with COVID-19 and subsequently went under isolation at his home in Lahore.

AsadQaiserAsad Qaiser chairs the National Assembly session in Islamabad. File

Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal member of the Sindh Assembly Abdul Rasheed last week also tested positive.

Earlier this month, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Director of Public Health Dr Ikramullah Khan had also tested positive. Last week, KP Health Minister Taimur Jhagra said that Kamran Khan Bangash, special assistant to the provincial chief minister, had also been infected and wished him a quick recovery.

Also in April, a brother-in-law of Chief Minister Shah had died after testing positive for the coronavirus at a Karachi hospital.

Last month, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani had been infected with the virus, prompting the provincial Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and other members of his cabinet to take the test as well. Ghani made a full recovery a week later and resumed work.

Mardan lawmaker Abdus Salam Afridi was also diagnosed with COVID-19 last month.

It was decided to keep the offices of the National Assembly Secretariat closed until May 9. The offices were earlier closed until April 30 in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

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