DOH warns vs. disclosing identity of COVID-19 patients

Published August 31, 2020, 2:39 PM

by Betheena Unite

Individuals responsible for circulating the list of patients suffering from coronavirus disease on social media were warned Monday by the Department of Health (DOH) over possible privacy and confidentiality breach.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The public and officials were also enjoined to help the Health department in disseminating information on the possible consequences of such acts.   

“I like to call on the general public and our officials na sana mas maging considerate tayo sa estado ng mga pasyente with COVID-19 (I hope we can be considerate in the status of COVID-19 patients) Let us remove this practice of stigmatizing and discriminating our patients,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

Vergeire emphasized that instead of discriminating and stigmatizing the patients, people should give them support as they battle the disease.

“Kailangan nila ng suporta natin ngayon dahil sila naman ay kapag na-isolate na at natapos sila ay hindi na nakakapanghawa rin pero yung ipalabas pa natin sa public yung mga pangalan (What they need is our support because once they are isolated and have recovered, they will no longer transmit the disease, but exposing their names in public) I think this is breaching a law in the country,” the undersecretary added.

She explained that the names of patients could be disclosed to health authorities and concerned public officials for proper interventions.  Revealing their profile publicly and indiscriminately means violating a law protecting the privacy rights of a citizen.

“When it comes to notifiable diseases, we can share information to officials so that they can provide proper interventions for the patient but sharing this on social media is not allowed under the law. Even the data privacy law (prohibits) violating the right of the person to confidentiality and privacy,” Vergeire said.

“Sana hindi maulit at sana ay makatulong namin kayo sa pag-spread ng (We hope this won’t happen again so that we can help spread the) information that we would like to have that respect for the rights of our patients with COVID-19,” the health officials added.

 
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