India parliament session may be cut short as COVID-19 cases among lawmakers rise

India is the second-most badly hit country after United States with total recorded coronavirus cases at 5.3 million. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 September 2020

India parliament session may be cut short as COVID-19 cases among lawmakers rise

  • The Indian parliament met for the first time in six months on September 14
  • The government has also mandated daily tests for journalist entering parliament to cover the session from Saturday

NEW DELHI: India’s parliament session that began this week is likely to be cut short after 30 lawmakers were found infected with the coronavirus, two senior parliament officials said, as the number of cases in the country rose to 5.3 million.
The Indian parliament met for the first time in six months on September 14 and was to function until Oct. 1, but the two officials said its duration could be reduced by a week.
“Since the commencement of the session the number of positive cases have gone up so the government is thinking of cutting short the session,” said one of the two officials, who are involved in the functioning of parliament proceedings.
The government has also mandated daily tests for journalist entering parliament to cover the session from Saturday.
Piyush Soperna, joint director at the country’s upper house’s secretariat, said in an email response that it has no information on the issue of prematurely ending the parliament session next week.
India, which recorded 93,337 new infections in the last 24 hours, has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August, according to a Reuters tally.
India is the second-most badly hit country after United States with total recorded coronavirus cases at 5.3 million.
However, deaths in India have been relatively low.
The virus has killed 1,247 people in last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 85,619, government data showed on Saturday.
The lawmakers who have been infected include Nitin Gadkari, highways and medium and small enterprises minister in Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
On Wednesday, India’s federal government ordered its states not to hoard oxygen supplies and allow free movement to cope with the rising number of cases.


Academic freed in Iran ‘blown away’ by support

Updated 57 min 22 sec ago

Academic freed in Iran ‘blown away’ by support

SYDNEY: An Australian-British academic released after two years imprisoned in Iran on spying charges said she thanked supporters from the “bottom of my heart” Tuesday, saying they helped her through a “never-ending, unrelenting nightmare.”
In her first statement since arriving back in Australia, Middle East scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert said she was “totally blown away” by efforts from friends and family to secure her release.
“I honestly have no words to express the depth of my gratitude and how touched I am,” the 33-year-old said.
“It gave me so much hope and strength to endure what had seemed like a never-ending, unrelenting nightmare. My freedom truly is your victory. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!“
Moore-Gilbert was released last week in a swap for three Iranians linked to a botched plot to kill Israeli officials in Bangkok.
She was arrested by Iran’s hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in 2018, after attending an academic conference in the holy city of Qom in central Iran.
She was later charged with espionage and sentenced to 10 years in jail, allegations she has denied.
arb/mtp