26 Nepali lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 ahead of key vote on PM

Kathmandu: At least 26 members of the House of Representatives in Nepal have tested positive for coronavirus, just ahead of a key vote on Monday on a motion of confidence called by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

The Secretariat of the federal parliament conducted the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for lawmakers ahead of the key vote, with tests returned positive for 18 of them, while eight others were already infected amid the second wave of the pandemic raging in Nepal, said Gopal Nath Yogi, secretary at the House of Representatives.

“We have reports that 26 members of the House of Representatives have tested positive for coronavirus,” Yogi told Xinhua news agency on Saturday. 

“Two of them are ministers.”

There are four ministers in the Oli cabinet who have tested positive, but two are not MPs.

The House of Representatives, which has 271 members at present, will be voting on the motion of confidence on Monday which will decide the fate of the Oli government. 

Oli is currently leading a minority government as his former partner the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) has withdrawn its support to him.

Oli needs 136 votes to stay in his premiership.

“We are yet to decide on the voting arrangements to those who have tested positive,” said Yogi. 

“The meeting of the Business Advisory Committee led by Speaker Agni Sapkota will decide on the matter on Sunday.”

Nepal on Saturday recorded 8,287 new Covid-19 infections through PCR tests and 131 positives through antigen tests, and 53 more patients lost their lives in the past 24 hours. 

Nepal’s overall caseload and death toll currently stood at 385,890 and 3,632.