Solons back mandatory disclosure of personal information of COVID-19 patients
MANILA, Philippines — Several lawmakers backed the new requirement for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients to disclose their information to enhance contact-tracing efforts.
Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo, who serves as vice chairperson of the House committee on public information, said that the “right to privacy is not absolute.”
Salo, however, underscored that personal health data of patients is not for public consumption—such as printing in newspapers or announcing it in social media—but rather for the purpose of protecting other persons during the pandemic.
“It admits of certain exceptions, such as voluntary disclosure by the person involved, or involuntary disclosure in order to advance the general welfare of the people in times of emergencies, including pandemics,” Salo said in a message to reporters.
“However, in cases of involuntary disclosure, the means and the manner must only be that which are necessary to achieve a specific purpose, which in our case is either to protect the health personnel attending to the patient or to protect the persons most at risk because of exposure to the patient,” he added.
Meanwhile, for Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor, this move should have been done by the government since the start of the pandemic.
Defensor said that the context behind not requiring COVID-19 patients to disclose their personal information was to protect them from public humiliation and discrimination.
However, the lawmaker said COVID-19 patients have nothing to be ashamed of.
“This situation is different and there is nothing to be embarrassed about with COVID-19. Contract-tracing is primordial to stop the spread of the virus,” Defensor said.
“It is also in the patients’ interest to protect his/ her family and friends from getting infected. The emergency act empowers the administration to reveal the persons’ info but when this is over and the act is repealed, we should amend the law accordingly,” the lawmaker added.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin said that in these public health situations, “personal rights and liberty should take the backseat.”
“Justification is for the prevention of the spreading of infectious disease. We are dealing with an invisible enemy and contact tracing here is immediate and indispensable,” Garbin said.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Sunday said that the new rule would help in the country’s contact-tracing efforts which is spearheaded by the Office of Civil Defense.
As of Sunday, April 12, the Department of Health said there are 4,648 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with the death toll reaching 297.
Edited by JPV
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