Garcia calls on COVID-19 patients to reveal themselves, save others
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has called on patients who tested positive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to voluntarily reveal themselves to “save” other people whom they have recently come in contact with.
“We always respect the right to privacy of the patients and the families. On the other hand, yes, it would really help if the patient would voluntarily reveal [themselves] because by then it sends an alarm signal to those who may have had contact with these patients,” Garcia said on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
Garcia made the statement after the Department of Health said it will not publicly disclose the identity of patients in line with the Data Privacy Act.
Despite the resolution of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) requiring the public disclosure of the personal information of COVID-19 patients, the DOH said it will only share the data to concerned government agencies for contact tracing purposes.
“I think what was announced by the IATF still had a qualification that it was not for public information. The identities could be revealed to the local government unit involved and of course to health officials but mao ra na,” Garcia said.
Garcia earlier aimed to start revealing the identities of COVID-19 patients this April 15 in order to expedite the contact tracing procedures and to warn persons who may have come in contact with a confirmed patient.
But since the DOH will still not allow the public disclosure of patients’ information, Garcia said she is still “shackled” and could not proceed to naming the patients.
However, Garcia appealed to the patients to waive their rights and reveal themselves to alert their recent close contacts.
Garcia said even her nephew, a lawyer now based in New York, has contracted COVID-19 and publicly announced it via social media to warn others.
“For me, that was a heroic thing to do. He was not thinking of himself. He was also thinking of others, so that in his own way, he could also do his part to save others,” she added.
Garcia said her nephew, David Lat, is now stable and recovering after at least three days of being intubated. /rcg
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