Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (RTVM)

The mandatory disclosure of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive patient’s personal information will not be shared publicly but would only be used by the Department of Health (DOH) to speed up contact tracing.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson for the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), clarified that patients’ information will primarily be managed by the DOH after senators asking for assurances that patient’s personal data will not be misused.

The DOH will be the only agency to share the data with local government units and law enforcers that will then undertake contact tracing while being aware of the Data Privacy Act.

Nograles stressed that the IATF will not tell the patient to disclose his private information to the public.  “We are telling the patient to disclose to [the] DOH all accurate and honest information,” he stressed.

The law calls for full disclosure of accurate information, without room for refusal when asked.

A lawyer group pointed out that patient’s information should only be solely for contact tracing as disclosure on social media and unofficial publications is illegal, except by the DOH and the Office of Civil Defense.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros stressed that only relevant information should be obtained.

“There is a need to narrow down the information needed for disclosure as specifically as possible,” she said.

“[The task force] should also ensure that the needed information is disclosed only to the proper authorities and will not be used for any other purpose, and in accordance with the Data Privacy Act.”

Hontiveros also raised the need to come up with mechanisms to deal with reports of public discrimination against confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. (Jojo Mangahis)