Disclosure, transparency help Baguio contain COVID-19 spread
BAGUIO CITY — New coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients who disclosed their condition to the public have helped contain the transmission of the disease in Baguio, the city’s top epidemiologist said on Wednesday.
Dr. Donabel Tubera-Panes said many patients had volunteered to reveal their identities online following a personal encouragement from Mayor Benjamin Magalong and extensive support from the community.
“The mayor himself spoke to the patients. Reaching out to patients helped ease their fears,” Panes said during a virtual forum organized by the University of the Philippines Baguio.
She made the remarks after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año expressed difficulties in releasing patients’ names due to the data privacy law.
According to Año, contact tracing teams need better information about the patients’ activities to track down people who may have been exposed to the disease.
This prompted the Department of the Interior and Local Government to coordinate with hospitals for the contact tracing.
The city government has been reminding patients that they have rights to privacy and the confidentiality of their medical condition, so divulging their identities has been purely voluntary, Panes said.
Among the patients who revealed that they had contracted the virus were a nurse and a teacher, who posted online accounts about their struggle with the virus.
A Baguio supermarket on Wednesday also revealed that 14 of its employees had been stricken with the disease. Their revelations allowed their friends or coworkers to immediately isolate themselves and provide further information that led contact tracing teams to other possible infection cases, Panes said.
She also said residents here had provided “emotional support to those who have disclosed their identities,” often through social media.
As of Aug. 9, Baguio had recorded 67 new infections, raising the number of cases to 180, she said. The number did not include the 14 cases reported on Tuesday night. —VINCENT CABREZA
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