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Pakistan’s National Assembly to Convene for Coronavirus Session

by Newsweek Pakistan

Farooq Naeem—AFP

Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says May 11 (Monday) session will be limited to discussion on COVID-19 pandemic

Pakistan’s National Assembly will convene on May 11 (Monday) for a session limited to discussion on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday.

Addressing media in Islamabad, Qureshi said the parliamentary session would continue every other day. “It has been decided that no quorum would be identified in this meeting,” he said, noting that due to the risk of COVID-19, members could opt to not attend if they so chose.

“The session of Parliament would be limited to [discussion on] the coronavirus pandemic only,” he added.

According to the foreign minister, no visitors would be allowed to participate in the session and movement in the Parliament Lodges would also be limited. He said that social distancing guidelines would be followed, with members seated at a distance from each other, and face-masks would be encouraged to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Virtual session

Separately, on Monday, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry told media the Opposition had opposed the government’s proposal for a virtual meeting of Parliament amid the coronavirus lockdown.

“The Parliament session is necessary but people’s health is also necessary,” he said, adding that the threat was real, as National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 30.

“We don’t go to Parliament to hug each other; one has to talk, make speeches,” he said, adding that there was no reason that a virtual session could not have been pursued during this time.

Pakistan on Wednesday reached 22,550 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 526 deaths and 6,217 recoveries. On average, 20 people are dying daily in the country due to COVID-19 and around 1,000 new infections are being reported nationwide.

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