Sun. Sep 19th, 2021

MANILA — The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has on Sunday said henceforth it will require public disclosure of identities and diagnoses of patients with the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

According to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also task force spokesperson, the latest development in the country’s fight against the deadly virus requires the Department of Health and the Office of Civil Defense to enter into a data-sharing agreement.

Aside from this, it is also expected to strengthen the health department’s contact tracing efforts to quell the spread of the virus and flatten the curve of infections.

“The IATF adopts the policy of mandatory public disclosure of personal information relating to positive COVID-19 cases to enhance the contact-tracing efforts of the government,” Nograles said.

“The DOH and the OCD are directed to enter into a data-sharing agreement in accordance with Republic Act No. 10173 or the Data Privacy Act.”

The National Privacy Commission said the act “protects the privacy of individuals while ensuring [and regulating] free flow of information.”

And as such, at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the IATF first asked health facilities to secure the permission of patients before making their identities public.

The Philstar online also reported that “it is yet unclear what details about a COVID-19 patient the government will make public.”

Cabsec Nograles also said that the Philippine Statistics Authority would be allowed to operate “at a capacity necessary to conduct data gathering and survey activities related to COVID-19, including those related to registration [and the] implementation of the National ID System.”

At the same online briefing, Nograles echoed the health department’s sentiment that there is no government order to not report COVID-19 fatalities.

Veteran broadcast journalist Arnold Clavio on Saturday posted a claim on his Instagram account that a Metro Manila hospital was being ordered to conceal its COVID-19 death toll.

“In a Metro Manila hospital, there’s an order not to count the number of fatalities due to COVID-19. According to a frontliner, the situation is harrowing since corpses are scattered in the hospital’s hallway,” Saturday’s post by Clavio read in Filipino.

Clavio did not name the hospital allegedly involved but Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said Clavio disclosed the hospital to him and that the department will investigate.

“We wish to respond to allegations that the government has (not) given directives to suppress information regarding COVID-19 fatalities. In simple terms, that is not true,” Nograles said of the alleged order to hide the deaths.

“This outbreak concerns all of us, so we recognize that it is our responsibility to give you the facts, all the facts, and nothing but the facts. You deserve nothing less,” he added. (ia/

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