COVID-19: What Parliamentarians around the World have said

Yesterday, I issued the epidemic notice, and today the Minister of Civil Defence declared a state of national emergency, both of which provide us the powers for Government to move the country to level 4. This is the second time in New Zealand’s history that a state of national emergency has been declared. The first was on 23 February 2011. It followed the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch. It followed the death of many New Zealanders, the total destruction of much infrastructure, and the crippling of essential services. It was declared to allow the greatest possible coordination of local, national, and international resources to work on rescue and recovery. I acknowledge members on the other side of the House will know well the magnitude of that declaration at that time. Today, we put in place our country’s second state of national emergency as we fight a global pandemic, as we fight to save New Zealanders’ lives, to prevent the very worst that we’ve seen in other countries around the world from happening here, to protect our essential health services, to cushion the economic impacts of COVID-19—a state of national emergency to preserve our way of life.

-Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

We’re in tough times as coronavirus sweeps our globe, taking people’s lives and closing economies as it goes. The response around the world has varied. Some nations have been more effective than others. NZ, our country, Aotearoa New Zealand, has not been immune. We’ve seen numbers surge as the virus spreads and we test more. Today, we could look backward at what’s been done well, and perhaps not so well; it’s not a time for that. We are where we are and we’re all in this together. And today, on the big questions in this House and in New Zealand, we agree. There’s no National or Labour or Green or ACT or New Zealand First; just New Zealanders. We should be going to level 4 lockdown this evening, and we are putting in all the economic resources and investments required to defeat this common enemy.

                        -Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Leader of the Opposition), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

I speak today on behalf of New Zealand First, on behalf of our leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, and to our role in this coalition Government. The most important role of any Government is protecting its people. Many great thinkers down through the ages have talked about the role of the State and the social contract it has with its citizens, but this isn’t an academic discussion; this is about people’s lives.

                     -Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister for Children), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

My grandmother on my father’s side lost her father and her little brother in 1918 during the influenza epidemic, and then she and her sister had to stay with the Sisters of Mercy. These are the stories we don’t want other families to have to pass down. Together we are stronger. This too will end. Please follow the medical advice.

                 – Hon TRACEY MARTIN (Minister for Children), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

Like everyone who works in this place, I came here to work for change and to build a better future for the generations that follow us. I never would have thought that I would stand here today and say that the best way to make that happen is to temporarily suspend politics as usual. But it is—it is the right thing to do for the health and the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. The step that we have taken today, though extraordinary, is in keeping with what New Zealanders sent us here to do: to protect their wellbeing, to keep them safe, and to provide support for those who need it the most.

                – Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

The New Zealanders at home today, preparing themselves and their families for the weeks ahead, will occupy a unique place in our nation’s history. It’s the moment when every one of us—as parents, as friends, as New Zealanders—makes clear just what it is that we value above all else. It is a moment that generations of students and scholars will study to find out what it says about how we as New Zealanders cared for one another, and the actions that we were willing to take to care for everyone. Let’s ensure that they tell the story of a nation whose people knew that together, by following simple rules and taking simple actions, they could protect others and shape the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.

                     – Hon JAMES SHAW (Minister for Climate Change), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

It is critical that we all follow the game plan. Sometimes one does not like or agree with the coach’s game plan, but we also know that if every player doesn’t follow the plan, then actually we have no plan at all and, typically, in my experience, teams that do that lose. We as New Zealanders should not be aiming just to get through this; we should be aiming to get through it better than any other country, because that’s who we really are—we are the people who moved further for a better life than any others on earth. If you doubt that, just look at the map; there we are, having moved the farthest.

                        – DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

Some people wait for the Government to act but, actually, each of us are able to choose how we act, and make our contribution to New Zealanders getting through this crisis better than any other nation. Many people have approached my electorate office in the past few days, seeking to interpret various criteria—”Can I do this? What is my particular business in relation to essential services?” I can understand that the Government couldn’t have total clarity, and if it had waited till it had total clarity, it would have ignored General Patton’s great maxim, “A good plan violently executed this week is far better than a perfect plan executed next week.

                       -DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT), New Zealand, Wednesday 25 March 2020

Mr. Speaker, I am sure I speak for all members when I convey our best wishes to the Prime Minister and his wife, and any other parliamentarians who may be affected by symptoms. We wish them a speedy recovery.

The World Health Organization has declared coronavirus to be a pandemic, and while the government says that the risk to Canadians is low, countries around the world are taking decisive action. Italy is one of the hardest-hit countries and it has initiated many measures to lock parts of that country down. However, when the final flight out of Italy landed here, passengers were not screened. No temperatures were taken and no one was quarantined. They were given a pamphlet and sent on their way.

Is the government convinced that a departmental pamphlet is enough to reduce the spread of this disease?

                     – Andrew Scheer (Leader of the Opposition, CPC), Canada

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by addressing all Canadians at this anxious time. As Canadians, we are fortunate to have an outstanding health care system and fantastic medical professionals. We need to continue to listen to our medical experts. They are telling us that the situation will get worse before it gets better. They also say that Canada is well prepared.

Our government will do whatever it takes to keep Canadians healthy and safe, and I know that is the commitment of all members of this House.

                  -Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.), Canada

Mr. Speaker, communities across Canada are already reporting concerns about potential shortages of critical equipment like ventilators. This is a vital piece of medical equipment for managing symptoms of the disease. In countries like Italy, when cases spiked, local resources were overwhelmed and doctors were forced to make heartbreaking decisions. If what happened in Italy happens here, the results could be catastrophic.

Has the government secured a supplier to provide additional ventilators?

                  – Andrew Scheer (Leader of the Opposition, CPC), Canada

Mr. Speaker, our absolute priority is the health and safety of Canadians. The federal government is providing, and will continue to provide, leadership in partnership with the provinces, territories and all Canadians. We are already leading a bulk national procurement effort to ensure Canadians have the necessary medical equipment. I want to be clear: This is not a time for us to quibble about federal and provincial responsibilities. This is a time for Canadians to work together, and that is what we are doing.

                – Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.), Canada

Mr. Speaker, other countries around the world have started to flatten the growth curve of the coronavirus by implementing tangible decisions to stop the transmission. The Liberals decided not to impose mandatory screening at airports. They have decided not to impose mandatory quarantine procedures. They have decided not to implement any restrictions on travellers entering into Canada.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister inform the House: what evidence has the government based these decisions on?

                    -Andrew Scheer (Leader of the Opposition, CPC), Canada

Mr. Speaker, let me start by assuring Canadians that Canada’s public health system is outstanding and our public health officials are doing a terrific job on the ground. The health and safety of Canadians is our number one priority and our government is guided in all of its decisions by advice from medical professionals and by scientists. Enhanced screening and detection processes are in place at all international airports, at land crossings and at ports. We are constantly evaluating the measures in place and the developing international situation.

                  -Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.), Canada

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the World Health Organisation has declared a global pandemic and has called on all countries to take concrete action in response to the situation. Aside from the border and large gatherings, the Prime Minister announced that it would be easier to access EI, but that does not help workers who lose their jobs as a direct result of the coronavirus. We are talking about thousands of Canadians and Quebeckers.

We would like to know when the government will announce concrete measures to support workers whose employers are directly affected by the coronavirus. The measures that were announced unfortunately do nothing for those individuals.

                  -Alain Rayes (Richmond—Arthabaska, CPC), Canada

Mr. Speaker, our thoughts are also with Ms. Grégoire and all victims of the virus. The Liberals’ announcement about COVID-19 leaves workers out in the cold as usual. Staying home is not an option for people without sick leave. They may lose their pay and maybe even their jobs.

Almost 60% of Canadian workers do not qualify for employment insurance. Therefore, if we want to ensure the virus does not spread, people have to be able to stay home if they are sick and still pay their rent.

When will the government guarantee that all workers who have to self-quarantine get the financial support they need to feed their families?

                 -Peter Julian (New Westminster—Burnaby, NDP), Canada

Mr. Speaker, we are very aware that the coronavirus is having a significant economic impact around the world and in Canada. We know that we must support Canadians who may not be able to work because of illness or quarantine.

That is why our government announced this week a $1billion coronavirus response package. That package does include significant measures to support workers who need to miss work because they are ill or are in quarantine.

Now, of course, as the situation develops, our government will be monitoring it and is poised to take more steps.

                 -Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.), Canada

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the Liberals really understand the issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic does not affect everyone equally. Many cannot call in sick and still collect a paycheque. Many of these people are women and come from marginalized groups. They work in the service industry and on the front lines.

It is in everyone’s best interest that they have the ability to self-quarantine if they need to. What is taking so long? These are real people who need real solutions and the promises made will not do it for those people. Therefore, when is action going to happen?

                -Rachel Blaney (North Island—Powell River, NDP), Canada

Mr. Speaker, just yesterday, travellers arriving from Italy at Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport were shocked to see that no one asked them any questions. They were coming from one of the largest outbreak zones in the world, yet they were simply handed a pamphlet.

This afternoon, the government’s travel advisory for Europe still indicated the lowest possible risk level, even though when we are in a full-blown pandemic. There is a happy medium between panicking and doing nothing.

Will the government finally take real measures to monitor the coronavirus?

                -Claude DeBellefeuille (Salaberry—Suroît, BQ), Canada

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said that between 30% to 70% of Canadians could become infected with COVID-19. These numbers are alarming, especially with the growing seniors population and many Canadians with underlying health issues being directly at risk.

Is the minister confident that Canada has a sufficient supply of beds, ventilators, testing kits and general supplies to keep Canadians healthy and safe?

                -Matt Jeneroux (Edmonton Riverbend, CPC), Canada

Mr. Speaker, I was prepared to rise today to give a statement regarding what I believe to be the Liberal government’s failure to stand up for our energy industry, specifically by not supporting Teck Resources’ frontier oil sands mine, but today another partisan speech is the last thing that my constituents or Canadians need to hear. There will be plenty of time for holding the Liberal government to account.

Today as we face the pandemic of COVID-19 we learn that the Prime Minister and his wife have entered self-isolation. We learn of new cases every day. I urge Canadians not to give in to fear. We are going to carry on. We are going to survive, and we are going to be stronger than ever.

I want to extend my heartfelt prayers to the Prime Minister and his family and to all Canadians who are suffering. God bless them all.

               -Dane Lloyd (Sturgeon River—Parkland, CPC), Canada

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on covid-19. The spread of coronavirus is rapidly accelerating across the world and in the UK. The actions that we took yesterday are not actions that any UK Government would ever want to take, but they were absolutely necessary. The goal is clear: to slow the rate of transmission in order to protect the NHS and save lives. Our instruction is simple: stay at home.

People should only leave their home for one of four reasons: first, to shop for basic necessities, such as food, as infrequently as possible; secondly, to exercise once a day, for example a run, walk or cycle, alone or with members of the same household; thirdly, for any medical need, or to provide care or help to a vulnerable person; and fourthly, to travel to and from work, but only where it cannot be done from home, and employers should be taking every possible step to ensure that staff can work remotely. Those four reasons are exceptions to the rule.

                -The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock), United Kingdom

We are engaged in a great national effort to beat the virus. Everybody now has it in their power to save lives and protect the NHS. Home is now the frontline. In this national effort, working together, we can defeat this disease. Everyone has a part to play. I commend this statement to the House.

                 -The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock), United Kingdom

Let me quickly turn to personal protective equipment. I understand the efforts the Government have made, but there are still NHS staff saying that they have no access to adequate PPE. We still have hospital chief executives expressing concern that they do not have access to FFP3 masks, that they are not getting the visors and sanitisers they need on time and that, when they do get masks, they are different from the previous masks, so staff have to be retrained. I urge the Government to move heaven and earth to get the PPE our staff need to the frontline. We also need PPE in social care. We are beginning to see outbreaks of covid-19 in social care homes. What support is in place for the residents of care homes, and when will we get the PPE that we need into the social care sector?

                -Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab/Co-op), United Kingdom

As the House knows, we are living in unprecedented times. The Government have made it clear that they will do whatever it takes to mitigate and limit the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the United Kingdom. To that end, we have a coherent, co-ordinated and comprehensive plan to support public services, equipping our doctors, nurses and other essential staff with the tools they require on the frontline in support of their work. It is a plan to protect businesses, jobs, wages and incomes through this difficult and uncertain period for the economy. At the heart of the Bill is a recognition that the Government must act swiftly and boldly to provide the resources necessary to limit, and ultimately defeat, the virus.

                 -The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Jesse Norman), United Kingdom

Sadly, many workers have already been laid off as a result of this terrible virus. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was extremely candid and honest last week when he said that he could not live on the £94.25 per week statutory sick pay. I do not think any of us can. How can the Government expect entire families to afford a week’s shop on that sort of income? Will the Government therefore increase the appallingly low level of statutory sick pay and ensure that all workers are eligible for it? So many are not at the moment. Will they also increase the £73 rate of jobseeker’s allowance and employment support allowance for disabled people? Will they also look at the even lower rate of carer’s allowance? Carers are expected to live on £66 a week.

                -John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab), United Kingdom

Coronavirus is the most serious public health emergency that has faced the world in a century. We are all targets, but the disease reserves its full cruelty for the weakest and the most vulnerable. To defeat it, we are proposing extraordinary measures of a kind never seen before in peacetime. Our goal is to protect life and to protect every part of the NHS. This Bill, jointly agreed with all four UK Governments, gives us the power to fight the virus with everything that we have.

                  -The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)

We are expanding the amount of testing. We are buying tests, both ones made abroad and ones made here in the UK, because testing is absolutely vital to getting out of this situation. I want to get to a point where anybody who wants to get tested can get tested. At the moment, we are having to reserve the tests we have for patients, especially in intensive care, so that they can be properly treated according to whether or not they have coronavirus. Very soon, we are getting the tests out to frontline staff so that they can get back to work, where somebody in their household might have the symptoms and they are household-isolating. I understand absolutely the importance of testing. We are working on it incredibly hard. We were working on it all weekend, and we are making some progress.

                 -The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)

I can confirm that the Bill is to deal with the current coronavirus emergency, and that is an important point. But I would also say that although the world has changed in the past three weeks in ways that many could not have imagined, every measure that has been taken by the Government has been part of the action plan that we published three weeks ago. Of course, the Bill has been drafted over a long period, because it started on the basis of the pandemic flu plan that was standard before coronavirus existed and has been worked on over the past three months at incredible pace by a brilliant team of officials right across Government. The Bill is consistent with the action plan, so while some people might have been surprised by each of the measures we have taken, they have all been part of the plan that we set out right at the start. I can confirm that it is only for coronavirus.

                  -The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)

The measures in the Bill fall into five categories: because we rely on the NHS and social care staff now more than ever, the first set of measures will help us to increase the available health and social care workforce; secondly, there are measures to ease the burden on frontline staff, both in the NHS and beyond; thirdly, there are measures to contain and slow the spread of the virus so that we can enforce social distancing; fourthly, there are measures on managing those whom the disease has taken from us with dignity and respect; and fifthly, there are measures on supporting people to get through this crisis.

                -The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)

On Chamber attendance, Parliament as a whole continues to follow the latest Government advice relating to covid-19, including advising Members and staff to work remotely where possible and limiting all but essential access to the parliamentary estate. I remind Members and those watching our proceedings that steps are being taken to preserve social distancing in the Chamber. As a result, attendance will be more limited than usual, but that does not curtail the commitment of hon. Members to fulfilling their parliamentary duties.

                 -Speaker, UK House of Commons

We recognise the need to improve our video conferencing facilities to enable those working remotely to engage in Committee proceedings. Regarding evidence sessions, these facilities are currently limited, not least because the management of these sessions requires expert operators to produce audio-visual output of a suitable quality for broadcast use and Hansard transcription purposes. The teams who make such arrangements work are currently under—I do stress—significant strain because of staff absences. Further work in this area will be taken forward as a matter of priority over the Easter recess. Once the current situation has settled, I will commission a review to ensure we can develop systems to ensure we are ready and able to be more agile in the future.

               -Speaker, UK House of Commons

If Divisions take place from today onwards, until further notice, the arrangements will be modified to allow for social distancing. The entry of Members will be staggered, with entry at separate times for three alphabetical groups. Members will be able to record their names at any of the desks. A Division may take between 30 and 40 minutes to conduct in that way. Further details will be communicated via the Whips and announced again if a Division takes place. I want to ensure that Members feel satisfied that all the staff are trying to do their best.

               -Speaker, UK House of Commons

Many more people will be mourning the loss of loved ones as a result of coronavirus this week. Our hearts go out to all of them and to those suffering from the disease at the present time. Across our country people are working day and night to keep us safe, fed and warm: our wonderful NHS staff; police; firefighters; prison and probation workers; teachers; civil servants; local government staff; and social care workers. All of them are showing the value of public service. They are the unsung heroes, keeping the transport system running, the post delivered, utilities running and our supermarkets properly stocked. I wish to give a special mention to one group who are usually ignored, forgotten and decried as “unskilled workers”—cleaners. All around the country, and in this building, they are doing their best to keep our places hygienic and safe.

               -Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab), United Kingdom

Over the past few weeks, I have asked the Prime Minister many times what action is being taken to ensure that testing is being prioritised, and I have received assurances that everything that could be done was being done. Yet a leaked email shows that it was just three days ago that the Prime Minister wrote to UK research institutes to ask for help, saying that there were “no” testing machines “available to buy”. Why was that not done weeks ago, if not months ago, when the Government were first warned about the threat of a global pandemic? What action is now being taken to get testing machines?

               -Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab), United Kingdom

Unfortunately, that is not the reality on the ground, as many of my colleagues will point out. Constituents are getting in touch with us, saying that they are being threatened with eviction now. They are in rent arrears because they cannot work during this shutdown over coronavirus. To be absolutely clear about this, will the Prime Minister make sure that it is legislated that nobody can be evicted from the private rented sector during the first six-month period of this emergency?

               -Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab), United Kingdom

The right hon. Gentleman said something the other day about how this country would come through this experience changed, and changed for the better. On that, he and I completely agree. We will get this country through this crisis with these exceptional steps, and I can tell him that we will do absolutely everything that it takes. We will do whatever it takes to get our country through this together. We will beat this virus together.

               -UK Prime Minister

In Norway and Denmark, wage support schemes have already been extended to cover the incomes of the self-employed. In Germany, there is a €50 billion programme to ensure that the self-employed do not go bankrupt. In Ireland, the self-employed are eligible for a special pandemic payment of €350 a week. The Scottish Government have written to the Chancellor, asking him to expand the job retention scheme that he announced last week to include the self-employed. Will the Prime Minister confirm that, when the Chancellor eventually does announce measures, there will be parity and equality of support between the already announced job retention scheme and the new scheme for the self-employed? They must not be left behind, Prime Minister.

              -Ian Blackford, United Kingdom

Tributes should be made to health staff, who provide absolutely essential support to keep our hospitals and surgeries open. It is, in fact, at times like this that one realises the profound and important contribution made by non-clinical staff. We owe it to them to provide generous and open-hearted arrangements, so that they can continue their work and, if necessary, self-isolate in financial security and confidence, and the Government are committed to reviewing those arrangements.

             -Lord Bethell, UK House of Lords

My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right about kissing. Kissing is wonderful but potentially dangerous. I share with the Chamber that we have had detailed conversations about kissing, shaking hands, fist-bumping and all manner of social intercourse. The analysis and guidance from the CMO is clear: it is the touching of your own nose that is the real problem. The average person touches their own nose between 70 and 100 times a day. That is why we focus on the message about washing hands. If your hands are clean, it does not matter how many times you touch your nose; but if they are dirty, whether that is through shaking hands, touching a door handle or whatever, the germs are there and can be conveyed. That is why we focus on that.

              -Lord Bethell, UK House of Lords

My Lords, I listened very carefully to the Minister’s comments on behavioural change and discouragement, but there is nothing of any substance in this Statement on the provision of early information that could affect personal conduct—which is very important on this—particularly for the elderly, apart from hand-washing and tissue cover when coughing. The public want detailed information now on transmission points—where they are and what they are—and on the life of the virus under various conditions. Detailed, authoritative information will influence personal conduct. In my view, personal conduct may well be more important than what the Government do. At the moment, all we have is an internet riddled with rumour, speculation and unattributable advice. The Government have missed a real opportunity. Can we have far more detailed information at this stage?

            -Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab), UK House of Lords

My Lords, the Minister is to be congratulated on the way he is answering questions in difficult circumstances, trying to keep the balance right. There is one area where we have great problems in controlling what happens. We have nearly 6 million people who are self-employed. We have talked about what you could do with people in employment and the support that could be given to them. What attention is being given to the issue of the self-employed? The Minister also mentioned that the Government have looked at the way in which the sequencing of communications should take place. Perhaps he might say a little more about that. Perhaps we might explore the opportunity to be positive. We have many people who are lonely, and I hear that many people are fearful—very frightened. Perhaps we should start getting some positive messages to them as well somewhere in the sequencing, so that they can feel less fearful than they are at the moment.

                 -Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab), UK House of Lords

I want to tell the nation that first, they need to appreciate that we have not abdicated our duty. In fact, most of these Members of Parliament have been debating and contributing to the issues of COVID-19 online. Sometimes, our debates have gone up to almost 2.00 a.m.; finding solutions on how best we should come to the House, what the Committee on Health and Committee on Finance and Budget should do. Most of those suggestions have led to this Motion, your Communication and many other decisions that are going to made going forward.

                 -Sen. Kipchumba Murkomen, Leader of Majority, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, thirdly, I want to suggest a few things that the Committee should look at: The Committee should look at ways and means of cushioning Kenyans from the impact of this serious pandemic. In that case, they must have a broad-based stimulus package that will capture the needs of the people of Kenya and the desires of the poor.

If we are not going to guarantee food to Kenyans in slums like Mathare, they will walk to Muthaiga and get food for themselves. If we are not going to guarantee food for Kenyans living in Kibera, they will walk on foot to Karen to get food themselves. Countries like Italy and other parts of the world that these measures are being taken to contain the COVID-19 have other counter repercussions, which include the fact that people are lacking food to eat.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, this Committee should come up with measures of how best we can contain the spread of COVID-19 while at the same time guarantee that there is food. In doing so, we must listen to various voices. I have read contributions by Mr. David Ndii, a person I never agree with politically, but we must listen to proposals that various Kenyans are giving.

               -Sen. Kipchumba Murkomen, Leader of Majority, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Many Parliaments all over the world are meeting now as they delve into issues concerning COVID-19. It requires of us now to think more innovatively about our Standing Orders. I hope we will begin to incorporate in our Standing Orders situations where Parliament cannot meet in Plenary. For example, if there is war or an emergency such as the one we have now, how can we do the things we must do without necessarily meeting in Plenary or in the various committees?

                   – Sen. James Orengo, Minority Leader, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, this crisis whatever its magnitude should not take away our human rights. Our freedom should never be taken away because of a crisis. In fact, under the Constitution, if you want to limit any of the constitutional rights contained in the Bill of Rights, you will need legislation which will require Parliament to meet.

               – Sen. James Orengo, Minority Leader, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

In order for us to do that we need to plan for the worst, people are planning for the worst. If we want to deal with this crisis, we do not deal with the 50 cases that have come up. Now they are talking about a possibility of having 10,000 cases. I think we should be talking about the need to have equipment and facilities even to deal with 100,000 or more cases. This is because if we look at the figures that are coming up in Northern and South Africa, we cannot say the situation is got to be better. It is going to be worse before it can get better just as many people are saying. We need to plan ahead.

                – Sen. James Orengo, Minority Leader, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, as we do this, I also want us to prepare for the worst. The Ministry of Health has made projections that at the end of April, we might have 10, 000 cases. This is a point that we need to concentrate on and question ourselves. I would like to encourage the ad hoc Committee that has been formed to kindly focus on the counties. We know that health is a devolved function. We are mandated as Senators to protect the interests of our counties.

                -Sen. Cleophas Malala, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, as Sen. James Orengo said, this is the time for leadership. When we were adjourning last week, I opposed it because in other countries that have been hit hard by this pandemic, including the United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK), we see Congress and the House of Commons meeting. At a time of crisis, leadership is needed. To date, those parliaments and others have passed serious interventions. For example, the Australian Parliament passed a 46.3 billion Dollars stimulus package. In Germany, the Bundestag has passed interventions to cushion the poor. Canada has 37 billion Dollars to give to small businesses. All these interventions are done in Parliament. Even at a time of crisis, the right of the people, the sovereignty to be expressed and represented is not suspended. Therefore, we must continue to work with innovations based on technology.

                  -Sen. Johnson Sakaja, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

We urgently need 510 water tanks in our slums. I have been appealing for this since the day we met. We are telling our people to wash their hands. We are asking them to put handwashing stations in their areas, yet they have no water in their houses. We have spoken to the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company to relax the rationing. They have done so because their reservoirs are full. However, we need 510 tanks in these places.

                     -Sen. Johnson Sakaja, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

For the first time, the narrative must change because the epistemology shows that it is no longer the people who travelled abroad that have the disease, but it is now being communicated between person to person. Therefore, the message must change. We must clean our knobs, tables, doors and every other place where everybody touches.

                      -Sen. Mutula Kilonzo Jnr., Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, after we are done with COVID-19, students will go to school, other people will pay loans, mortgages and so on. Let this Committee make no mistake. It is not just the Committee on Health, but it is supposed to provide stimulus for the country. For example, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) has given a very good document on the sort of stimulus that they would like to see done to microenterprises. They want the waiving of loans for three months or extending payment of loans for one year.

                 -Sen. Mutula Kilonzo Jnr., Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, many Kenyans are not serious people. We have a lot of problems. If you talk to most of the people, they will tell you that Coronavirus is a disease for the Wazungu and so, they will not get it. The Ministry of Health has projected 10,000 infections. I do not want to say anything that might annoy others. However, I am afraid that in May, we will be talking of other numbers and not 10,000. If we continue this way, things will be worse.

              -Sen. (Dr.) Ali, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Many Kenyans live out of the cities and cannot afford a television or radio in their homes. Therefore, some of them are not aware of what is happening in the other world. For example, in Marsabit, we have people who live in small villages and are not aware of what is happening. Therefore, I suggest that county governments take the responsibility of creating awareness and conduct campaigns by sending vehicles to villages with information, so that our people are well aware of what Covid-19 entails.

                   -Sen. (Rev.) Waqo, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

There is the issue of the banks, through the relevant statutes; the Banking Act and the Central Bank of Kenya Act. They need to actualise without issuing some statements in the newspapers with regard to customers getting in touch in the event that they have some repayment challenge. We need to anchor it in law in situations of this nature. I am aware that under the frustration of Contracts Act, the Laws of Kenya, which is also a statute of general application, it speaks volumes about how these contracts need to be tackled. Of necessity, there is a need to suspend subject to revision of these contracts that there be a moratorium and suspension of the payment of interest on these loans.

                    -Sen. (Dr.) Kabaka, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Lastly, I have seen the World Bank give a lot of money to the Government. It is about Kshs6 billion. I am sure other donors are following suit. It is high time that there be accountability for this money. In this country, people are corrupt, and I am not casting any aspersions. This money may disappear. It is in times of crises that some people line their pockets and become millionaires when many other people are suffering. We want accountability and equal distribution of these monies to eight counties.

                 -Sen. (Dr.) Kabaka, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Mr. Speaker, Sir, if we do not put in place and understand how any information or support is going to reach the rural poor, then we will not be doing justice to this nation. Secondly, apart from the rural poor even the urban poor, we need to make sure that people who are mostly affected –because some of us may have food in our stores –are the ones who live from hand to mouth and must go to work which is very critical. We must take care of these people.

                -Sen. Nyamunga, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

This Committee has a lot of work to be done. It is not just looking at the extent or the problem of COVID-19 or strategies employed. There is a bigger problem in this country that we need to look at. There are donors contributing money and the Government is putting in a lot of money. It is important for the Committee to sit with the National Steering Committee and see how that money is allocated to the counties so that it can help Kenyans.

                 -Sen. Dullo, Senate, Parliament of Kenya

Nchi yetu kwa sasa nimiongoni mwa nchi zinazopambana na ugonjwa wa Corona. Kwa wakati huo huo Bunge lina jukumu la kupitisha Bajeti ya Serikali kwa Mwaka wa Fedha 2020/2021, kutunga Sheria kwa kupitisha Miswada ya Sheria pamoja na Hoja mbalimbali. Aidha, Waheshimiwa Wabunge wana jukumu la kuwawakilisha Wananchi Bungeni kwa kutoa maoni, ushauri na kuwasilisha masuala mengine yenye maslahi kwa Wananchi wanaowawakilisha na Taifa kwa ujumla. Hivyo, pamoja na jitihada zinazoendelea za kukabiliana na ugonjwa wa Corona, Bunge inabidi liendelee na kazi.

                   -Job Y. Ndugai, Mb, Spika wa Bunge la Tanzania

Kwa kuwa ugonjwa huo ni rahisi kuambukizwa kwenye mkusanyiko wa Watu, tutaweka pembeni matumizi ya Kanuni na taratibu mbalimbalil za Bunge na hivyo utaratibu wa uendeshaji wa Mkutano wa 19 wa Bunge utakuwa tofauti na utaratibu wa kawaida wa Vikao vya Bunge.

                 -Job Y. Ndugai, Mb, Spika wa Bunge la Tanzania

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