India’s parliament met for the first time in six months yesterday, as novel coronavirus cases across the country rose by more than 90,000 in the space of a day and the total number of infections neared 5mn.
Members, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wore masks and sat in seats enclosed by glass partitions designed to prevent the spread of the virus.
The parliament’s hours have been truncated; the lower house Lok Sabha will sit in the morning and the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, in the afternoon.
“There can be no laxity when there is no medicine. We hope that a vaccine is available soon, whichever part of the world it comes from,” Modi said in remarks to the media before the session began.
Home Minister Amit Shah was absent from yesterday’s session.
He spent most of August in hospital after contracting the virus, and returned to hospital over the weekend for what hospital authorities said was a check-up.
Seventeen MPs have tested positive for the coronavirus in the mandatory tests conducted before the parliament session began.
They include the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Meenakshi Lekhi, Anant Kumar Hegde and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma.
An MP and several state legislators have died from the highly-infectious diseas.
For the first time, the MPs registered their attendance using the ‘Attendance Register’ app.
Also yesterday, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and eight legislators tested positive for the virus.
“After having mild fever I underwent Covid-19 test, result of which was positive,” Sisodia tweeted.
“I have self-quarantined myself. As of now I don’t have fever or any other problems and I am completely fine. With all the good wishes I will soon return to work after recovering completely.”
Infections in India have been rising faster than in any other country and it lags only the United States in total infections.
Yesterday, the Health Ministry said it had recorded 92,071 new cases of the coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 4.85mn.
Deaths have been relatively low compared with the number of infections, but the rate is rising.
More than 1,100 people died of Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours, the ministry said, taking the total number of deaths to 79,722.
l Former ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar’s husband Deepak Kochchar who was recently arrested in a money laundering case has tested positive for Covid-19.
Kochhar has been admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, the businessman’s legal team said.
A special court earlier this month sent Kochhar to 11 days custody after the Enforcement Directorate arrested him.
Kochhar is facing charges of money-laundering in the ICICI Bank-Videocon Group case.
The arrest came nearly a year after the Central Bureau of Investigation launched a probe against Videocon Group director Venugopal Dhoot, his companies Videocon International Electronics Ltd and Videocon Industries Ltd, and the Kochhars.
Following the CBI complaint, the ED launched its own probe into the money-laundering angle, and earlier this year, provisionally attached assets valued at around Rs780mn, including a flat in Mumbai, land, and plant and machinery of a wind power project in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which were “owned/controlled” by the Kochhars.
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