In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the practice of issuing visitor passes to witness Parliament proceedings has been suspended till further orders.
A notification signed by Lok Sabha secretary general Snehlata Shrivastava read that the practice has been suspended in view of rising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.
"Accordingly, members are requested not to recommend issue of Public Gallery passes and/or tender request(s) for Showground of Parliament House Complex. Kind cooperation of the Members is solicited," the notification read.
There is a demand by some MPs including union minister Harsimrat Kaur that the budget session should be curtailed keeping in view alerts issued regarding coronavirus. The second half of the budget session is scheduled to conclude on April 3. However, the government so far has not given any indication in this regard. The BJP has issued a whip to its Lok Sabha members to be present in the house on March 16. Demand for grants for various ministries will be passed on the same day. Rajya Sabha needs 14 days time after the budget is passed by the Lok Sabha to pass it.
Earlier on March 5, all Parliament officials have been told to physically mark their attendance in the attendance register maintained in their respective branches. However, officers provided with individual biometric devices may continue to mark their attendance in the biometric system.
There are 107 confirmed cases in India and, as per data from the World Health Organization, there are 126 cases in the SAARC region; Pakistan has 20 COVID-19 cases.
Later today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take part in a video conference with other SAARC nations at 5 pm on Sunday to evolve a joint strategy to fight the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 5,000 people worldwide and infected 1.3 lakh others.
Two deaths from the region have been linked to COVID-19. Both are from India - a 68-year-old woman died on Friday and a 76-year-old man died on Thursday.
The Indian government has announced various internal measures to combat the outbreak.
This includes closing 18 of 37 border checkposts to international traffic and suspension of all existing visas - except a few types such as UN and diplomatic - till April 15. The government has also advised against non-essential travel abroad; people have been warned of a 14-day quarantine on their return.
The COVID-19 outbreak began in a market in China's Wuhan district in December last year. The World Health Organisation has declared the outbreak a pandemic, meaning it has spread worldwide and affected huge number of people.