THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) urged the government to do its best to uphold patient privacy while keeping the public informed on the Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro said that the Data Privacy Act did not prevent government, particularly public health entities, from processing personal information to fulfill their mandate during an emergency.

“Government agencies mandated to address the public health emergency must have access to the relevant information to accomplish the purpose,” Liboro said.

The NPC stressed that pertinent information that should be facilitated during contact tracing may include travel history and locations frequented by persons under investigation (PUIs).

Liboro also said the Department of Health (DoH) should continue in its role of releasing necessary information to protect public health without sacrificing its mandate in determining cases and conducting contact-tracing.

“The DoH must continue performing its role and make that crucial call on what information is necessary for release to the public,” he said.

The commissioner also stressed that any unnecessary disclosure of personal information of Covid-positive individuals may jeopardize the government’s efforts to contain the disease.

“ If people believe that their identities will be released to the public when they come out for testing, they may be discouraged to come out—making it more difficult for the DoH and the rest of the inter-agency task force to identify more Covid-19 cases,”  Liboro said.

Liboro also reminded the public that they should check with official statistics from the DoH first before sharing and posting information that would reveal the identities of the patients. RED MENDOZA