MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday reminded that only health authorities are allowed to access the list of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients following reports of leaked names on social media.
“Relevant information should only be shared to concerned public health authorities who are knowledgeable of their duty in maintaining data privacy,” the DOH said as it warned that privacy violation or personal data breach shall be penalized in accordance with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10173).
RA 10173 provides that persons who “knowingly or negligently dispose, discard or abandon the personal information of an individual in an area accessible to the public” shall be penalized by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of not more than PHP1 million.
The Health department reiterated that under a joint memorandum circular it issued together with the National Privacy Commission, “only concerned healthcare providers, public health authorities, and DOH partner agencies and their authorized personnel shall be allowed to access the personal health information of the Covid-19 cases and/or identified close contacts”.
It added that while the law gives health authorities the right to access personal information to enable an effective response, they are also required to protect the patient’s privacy.
At the same time, the DOH called on its partner agencies, including local government units to ensure that the identities of Covid-19 patients, their families and identified close contacts are protected.
“Further, we call on the public to refrain from sharing these lists around social media. This is illegal and perpetuates the stigma around Covid-19. Our kababayans are already going through enough as it is, let us not exacerbate their situations,” it said. “Covid-19 is not a death sentence and fear is more dangerous than the disease.” (PNA)