Palace: PH privacy laws limit use of digital contact tracing
MANILA, Philippines — The use of digital contact tracing to suppress the spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is limited by the country’s data privacy laws, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
“We are doing that through StaySafe.PH. But we have privacy laws that should be enforced. This is the reason why the use of computerized apps was delayed, because we have sensitive data privacy laws,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, commenting on Vice President Leni Robredo’s call to the government to use digital apps in contact tracing, citing Singapore’s Trace Together App.
Roque said he did not know if Singapore had data privacy laws.
Big Brother watching
“We know Singapore. It acts like Big Brother watching its citizens. We’re not like that,” Roque said.
Trace Together App can detect viral infection, and alert people to the presence of virus carriers.
The government is hiring thousands of contact tracers to locate and isolate people who have contracted the coronavirus.
On Monday night, President Duterte told the police to “walk the extra mile” and help contact tracers find virus carriers.
“The police has the resources and the barangay captains know where these people live. That would be the fastest way of doing the tracing… The police has to sacrifice and contribute to the solution of the problem,” Mr. Duterte said in a televised address.
He said the police could not make excuses, as he had raised their salaries and absolved them of service-related cases.
“I only ask you to help our country. Walk the extra mile to help our country,” Mr. Duterte said.
Military may be tapped
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that the government would tap all available resources, including barangay health workers and the police, for contact tracing.
“According to a Supreme Court decision, if it’s still not enough, we can also tap the military. There is no violation of the Constitution if we do that, and that is in accordance with a Supreme Court decision,” Roque said.
On Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) recorded 2,987 additional coronavirus infections, pushing the national total to 139,538.
Of the additional cases, 1,374 fell ill between July 29 and Aug. 11, while 1,591 got sick between July 1 and 28.
Metro Manila accounted for more than half of the new cases, or 1,510. Cavite trailed, with 398, followed by Laguna (144), Iloilo (135) and Cebu (119).
The DOH said active cases now numbered 68,794, of which 91.6 percent were mild, 7.2 percent asymptomatic, 0.6 percent severe, and 0.6 percent critical.
It said 280 more patients had recovered, bringing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 68,432. But the death toll rose to 2,312, with the deaths of 19 more patients.
Of the newly reported deaths, eight occurred this month, seven in July, one in June and three in April. Seven of the fatalities were from Metro Manila, six from Central Visayas, three from Calabarzon, and one each from Ilocos and Western Visayas.
A repatriated overseas worker was also listed to have died of COVID-19.
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