Monday

6th Apr 2020

Coronavirus

Polish MEP makes false claims on EU parliament infections

The European Parliament has confirmed six people working there have so far have been infected by Covid-19, including one who recently died.

That figure was announced after a Polish conservative MEP, Karol Karski, stated on Polish television that 43 people at the assembly had been infected.

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Karski is one of five MEPs known as Quaestors, in charge of making sure deputies abide by internal rules.

According to sources, Karski is also in favour of MEPs retaining their daily €323 allowance while actually working from home.

On Tuesday (24 March), Karski told Telewizja Republika multiple staff at an IT department in charge of video-conferences had tested positive for the virus.

He claimed "43 staff in the department were tested and they all turned out positive".

He also said the EU parliament could no longer hold video-conferences given staff shortages in the department, suggesting it was no longer safe to work at the parliament.

Karski has yet to respond to EUobserver when asked what evidence he had to support his claim.

The issue was instead handled by the European Parliament's most powerful administrator, Klaus Welle.

In an email sent on Wednesday (25 March) and seen by this website, Welle set the record straight.

Welle said one MEP, two officials, one parliamentary assistant, and two external contractors, had in fact been infected.

"The figure cited by you is therefore completely false," writes Welle.

The email was addressed to Jérôme Rivière, a far-right MEP who heads the French delegation within the nationalist Identity and Democracy group.

Karski, along with the president of the European Parliament, among others, was put in copy.

Rivière had latched onto Karski's claim, demanding the European Parliament's internal services explain the discrepancy.

He also suggested Welle had in fact hidden the true figure, putting others at risk.

A European Parliament spokesperson said the institution has set up a thorough system to trace any possible infections.

"Everything is done so that the core business can continue in parliament," said the spokesperson.

She said the medical service traces back, up to four days, anyone showing symptoms or has contracted the virus, sending those individuals home.

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