Hospitals, virus patients' cooperation sought as data privacy law hinders contact tracing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2020 12:48 PM

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MANILA - Hospitals and virus patients are being asked by government to cooperate in giving full information for contact tracing purposes, according to the vice chair of the National Task Force against COVID-19 on Monday.

The Philippines' data privacy law is too tight that it hinders authorities' tracing of close contacts of virus cases, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said as he urged patients to voluntarily disclose their data.

"Isa pang balakid dyan, masyadong mahigpit ang data privacy law natin, hindi nagbibigay (ng) full information... 'Pag nanghingi tayo ng data, ang binibigay nila, pangalan lang ng patient, walang telephone number (or) address," Año told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Another obstacle is our strict data privacy law. When we ask hospitals for data, they only give the patient's name, and no telephone number or address.)

"Pinupulong natin ang hospitals na sa contact-tracing, tulong-tulong tayo lahat. At sana, boluntaryo rin yung mga taong naging positive. I-disclose nila yung inyong identity para makatulong, at ang mga hindi natin na-contact ay mag-step forward."

(We are meeting with hospitals so that we are one in our contact-tracing efforts. And we hope, COVID-19 patients will voluntarily disclose their identity, and those who we haven't traced will step forward.)

Hospitals may skip naming the virus patient and just give authorities his case number and contact details, while those who have been identified will not be named publicly or in the media, Año said.

"Sana maibigay yung data sa ating contact-tracing team. We need those data badly kasi nagiging spreader din itong mga contacts na ito na hindi naite-test," he said.

(We hope the data will be given to our contact-tracing team. We need those data badly because contacts we haven't traced can spread the virus if they aren't tested.)

The government aims to trace up to 37 close contacts of virus patients, with a minimum of 25 in rural areas, and 30 in urban areas, according to Año.

The task force is also considering measures on how it can assist breadwinners who might need to be placed in quarantine.

"Ang kailangan talaga natin dito ay cooperation ng bawat mamamayan na sana ay 'wag magtago, 'wag matakot. Yung ibang kababayan natin, ayaw magpa-test kasi 'pag nag-positive, di na sila makakapasok," he said.

(What we need is everybody's cooperation. Don't hide and don't fear. Some are scared to get tested because if they turn out positive, they won't be able to work.)

"Ito ang mga pinag-aaralan natin para ma-encourage ang ating mga kababayan na lumabas siya kung siya ay positive, gagaling siya at siya’y matutulungan natin."

(We are studying this to encourage them to come out so we can help them.)

The Philippines as of Sunday reported 129,913 cases of COVID-19, with 67,673 recoveries and 2,270 deaths.