Pakistani parliament’s speaker tests positive for COVID-19
The speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly has been tested positive for COVID-19, after hosting an iftar dinner to celebrate Ramadan, and meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan and other high officials earlier in the week.
He was checked in April, and tested negative, after meeting with the head of Pakistan’s biggest charity organization, who was subsequently confirmed to have caught the disease.
The number of cases has risen to 16,817, including 385 deaths in Pakistan.
“I have quarantined myself at home,” Asad Qaiser, who is also a close aide to Khan, said on Twitter. Qaiser met with the prime minister on Monday, and has met several other leading figures during the past few days.
The speaker had hosted an Iftar, the evening meal to break fast during Ramadan, attended by politicians and dignitaries on Monday.
Qaiser is the second high official to be infected in Pakistan after the Governor of the southern province of Sindh, Imran Ismail, tested positive.
Pakistan’s government agreed to allow mosque congregations after senior clerics and religious leaders threatened to violate restrictions during Ramadan.
The two sides worked out safety protocols for the mosque gatherings, but a social research organization earlier this week reported that protocols were not being followed.
Prominent doctors pleaded with the government to reconsider the decision, warning that mosque congregations, which are typically larger in Ramadan, could lead to a spike in infections, with hospitals already nearing capacity.