DOH urged to be more transparent in 2019-nCov updates

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2020 11:00 AM

A medical worker monitors the Pediatric Infectious Disease Critical Care Unit in San Lazaro Hospital in Manila where there is a confirmed case of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The Department of Health should be more open in communicating the risks of the new coronavirus after Manila recorded the first virus-related death outside China, the country of its origin, a public health expert said Monday.

Local health experts should be more proactive in updating the public on the diagnosis of monitored cases of the virus in the country to avoid public panic, Dr. Anthony Leachon, former director of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, said.

"Under the Data Privacy Act, you can actually tell people things for public safety so the people will not be surprised," he told ANC's "Headstart."

"We respect the privacy of course and human rights but we need to know," he added.

More people have been considered by the Philippine government as patients under investigation (PUIs), including those who interacted with the Chinese couple who tested positive for the new coronavirus. 

Twenty-three of the patients are currently admitted and isolated, and 10 others have been discharged but still being monitored.

Of the PUIs, 6 and 24 were found negative based on specimen tests conducted in Australia and at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, respectively. Test results for four others from RITM remain pending.

Leachon explained that more health experts can help in finding ways to treat cases of the virus if there is more transparency in the diagnosis of the cases.

"The country wouldn't mind if you're transparent that you're actually investigating PUIs and the course of this patient," he added, noting a "gap" in terms of risk communication on the virus.

"We want experts and all of the brilliant people to work like an expressway," he added.