DOH says sharing of COVID-19 patients' names violates law, tells public to stop the stigma

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 31 2020 12:40 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2020 12:55 PM

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in a televised briefing in April 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Sharing in public, including on social media, the identity of COVID-19 patients violates the law, the Philippines' health department said Monday as it urged Filipinos to stop the stigma related to the disease.

“I would like to call on the general public and our officials, sana maging considerate tayo (to be considerate),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual forum.

“Let us remove this practice of stigmatizing our patients.”

Vergeire warned those who post and share the list of COVID-19 patients are violating laws.

“Ang sinasabi sa ating batas o RA (Republic Act) on Notifiable Diseases, we can share information to officials so they can provide proper interventions sa mga may sakit. Pero, hindi allowed sa batas and sa Data Privacy Law yung pinopost natin ang mga pangalan to social media,” she said.

(What our law on notifiable disease says is that we can share information to officials so they can provide proper intervention to those who are sick. But this law and the data privacy law do not allow the posting of their names on social media.

“We are violating yung karapatan ng isang tao to confidentiality and yung kanyang privacy,” she added.

(We are violating the rights of a person to confidentiality and privacy.)

Along with the need to respect their rights, COVID-19 patients must not also be discriminated against, with Vergeire saying they are no longer infectious after isolating themselves.

Isolation should be for 14 days for those who are asymptomatic patients or with mild symptoms.

The Philippines logged its first COVID-19 case seven months ago, on Jan. 30, in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.

As of Aug. 30, the country's caseload of has swelled to over 217,000, of which, more than 56,400 are active infections.

There are 157,403 who have recovered, while 3,520 succumbed to the disease.