CHR Cordillera says COVID-19 patients’ right to privacy a must unless waived | Inquirer News
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CHR Cordillera says COVID-19 patients’ right to privacy a must unless waived

/ 04:42 PM April 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has reminded government officials that COVID-19 patients’ records should be kept private unless they themselves waived it.

According to a human rights advisory from the CHR office dated April 3, government officials should understand that even with the public health emergency and the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in place, data privacy rights are still in place.

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Parts of the CAR, particularly in Baguio City, have credited the publication of personal details of patients with COVID-19 (PwC-19) as the reason behind low infection rates.

“While the Commission recognizes the need to implement quarantine measures to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 which may include the disclosure of the health information of PwC-19 in order to fast-track the tracing of persons who have come in contact with them, we would like to reiterate that the rule of law is not suspended during this time of public health emergency,” CHR-CAR said.

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“The government’s duty to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of its people continue to be in force,” they added.  “Unless the PwC-19, law or court allows/authorizes disclosure, or the PwC-19 voluntarily waives his/her right, the legal protection on the right to privacy of PwC-19’s health information remains inviolable.”

Recently, four patients with COVID-19 in Baguio have publicly revealed their identities to help the government and the public track persons who have been in direct contact with them.

However, in other parts of the country, patients under monitoring, patients under investigation, and confirmed COVID-19 patients are wary of publicizing their personal details out of fear of discrimination.

In Cebu City, the local government is now investigating an incident where two nurses who lived in a condominium unit were barred from returning to their residences.  Such acts have forced other local government units to pass anti-discrimination ordinances to ensure the safety of COVID-19 patients and their relatives.

As of now, CAR and the rest of Luzon are still under the ECQ due to rising COVID-19 infections.  Department of Health officials said that there are now 4,195 patients infected with COVID-19, 221 of which have already died while at least 140 have recovered.

Worldwide, over 1.6 million individuals have been infected, while 95,357 have died from the disease and 353,480 have recovered from it.

CHR-CAR urged government agencies and the private sector to follow existing laws on data privacy, in dealing with COVID-19 patients.

“It is our recommendation that the national government or local governments units promptly adopt safeguards through protocols and/or legislations to ensure that there is no harassment, discrimination, or risk to the safety and security of PwC-19 who revealed to the public their identity and other health information, as well as health workers and other persons rendering service on the frontline and backline of our fight against COVID-19,” CHR said.

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TAGS: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, Baguio City, car, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, Cordillera Administrative Region, COVID-19, data privacy, ECQ, enhanced community quarantine, lockdown, nCoV update, patients with COVID-19, Philippine news updates, private information
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