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2 senators seek guidelines for mandatory disclosure of COVID-19 patients’ info

/ 05:00 PM April 13, 2020
Senate building

The Senate building at the GSIS Complex in Pasay City. (Photo by LYN RILLON / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — While the mandatory disclosure of information of COVID-19 patients for enhanced contact-tracing is “justified,” two opposition senators underscored the need for safeguards to ensure that information will not be used for any other purpose.

In a message to reporters on Monday, Senator Risa Hontiveros said clear guidelines should be established for the new policy of requiring COVID-19 patients to disclose their information for enhanced contact-tracing efforts.

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“Patients waiving the confidentiality of their medical condition will help authorities in the conduct of timely contact-tracing. It is a matter of public health and thus a responsibility,” she said.

“But clear guidelines need to be established for IATF’s [Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases] policy. There is a need to narrow down the information needed for disclosure as specifically as possible,” she added.

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Hontiveros also urged the IATF to “ensure that the needed information is disclosed only to the proper authorities and will not be used for any other purpose, and in accordance with the Data Privacy Act.”

The senator also called on authorities to impose redress mechanisms to address reports of discrimination against confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also backed the new policy but stressed that collected information should be used responsibly.

“I think it is justified given the need to ensure effective contact tracing,” Pangilinan said.

“There ought to be safeguards, however, to ensure that the information is shared responsibly and with due regard for privacy rights when warranted,” he added.

As of Monday, Philippine health authorities have so far confirmed 4,932 COVID-19 cases in the country.

Of the number, 315 have died while 242 have so far recovered.

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Edited by JPV

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