Heated exchanges erupted in the Senate this afternoon after some members loudly voiced strong objections to an announcement that Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins would attend this evening session’s in the Upper Chamber.
Senator Cummins was among several Government officials and media personnel who were advised to isolate after attending last Thursday’s welcoming ceremony for 95 nurses from Ghana at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
Nine of the nurses tested positive for COVID-19 at the weekend.
President of the Senate Dr Sir Richard Cheltenham in his announcements to the Senate read a letter from the Chief Medical Officer (ag) Dr Kenneth George which cleared Senator Lisa Cummins to return to House
“Please be informed that Senator Lisa Cummins is cleared to enter Parliament to attend the convening of senate…Senator Cummins has satisfied the health requirements from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and is COVID negative and therefore not infectious, your cooperation in this matter is appreciated,” the letter read.
Without missing a beat Senator Caswell Franklin rose to his feet to voice his strong objection declaring, “It aint gonna work with me, if she comes I gone.”
“I’m not staying in here with somebody who they told to stay in quarantine. The international standard is 14 days I am not going to stand in here and breach any standards when it comes to my health.”
Independent Senator Monique Taitt also voiced her concern to Cummins’ return.
“I am concerned sir, but there are people in here who are high risk and if we are in an environment where there are no windows I am not certain that this is a good thing. I believe that Senator Cummins coming in here is premature,” Taitt said.
However, Government Senator Dr Crystal Haynes sought to quell the concerns of the senators as she sought to explain the difference between the incubation and window period for COVID-19.
“Incubation is the time during which you would expect to develop symptoms if you are supposed to become symptomatic.. you can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms. The window period which for COVID is between two and six days describes the period after exposure during which you are likely to develop a positive test,” Haynes said.
She was adamant that the senators had nothing to fear, “The matter of fact is we have a member of this House who has been cleared by no less than the Chief Medical Officer who has a COVID-19 negative test and she should be allowed to join us Chamber this afternoon.”
President of the Senate Dr Sir Richard Cheltenham later ruled that Senator Cummins be allowed to return to join the session.
When she made her appearance, Senator Franklyn, Opposition Crystal Drakes and Senator Taitt walked out of the Chamber.