Immediately after the Department of Health announced that Sorsogon has its first Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) positive case, Governor Chiz Escudero took the report to Twitter and named the person. This shook the people of Sorsogon like an earthquake and became a trending topic in province’s social media groups. While many welcomed the act, others are asking: Is Chiz justified in publicizing the name of the Covid-19 positive person?
Indeed, publicizing the name would facilitate contact tracing. However, it can also be used as a means for patient shaming and even social discrimination. Remember the cases of harassment against frontliners one of which happened in Albay? If that can be done against frontliners who are not even afflicted with the virus, how much more those who are positive?
Protection of the patients against shaming and social discrimination are the reasons why the law on doctor-patient confidentiality exists. This is being reinforced by the Data Privacy Act (Republic Act 10173) that the Inter-Agency Task Force could not implement its Resolution No. 22. The IATF resolution allows the disclosure of Covid-19 patient information to facilitate contact tracing.
Apparently, the Provincial Government of Sorsogon asked the first Covid-positive in Sorsogon to sign a waiver for the disclosure of his name. Speculations are, this was done after Chiz’s declaration to cure the blunder.
Further, the provincial information and health offices have been on a news rampage to dispel the panic. They have been circulating posts in the social media that the Covid-19 positive is fine and asymptomatic — that is, infected with the virus but shows no symptoms. This, though, is backfiring as one Facebook user is challenging the governor to have a picture with the patient.
Well, the damage is done. Assuming that the governor takes on the challnge for a picture with Sorsogon’s first Covid-positive, should they smile and say “Chiiiizzz!”?