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Possible COVID-19 cases not cooperating in contact tracing

Contact tracing has proven to be difficult as some COVID-19 patients are being uncooperative.

Dr. Lenny Joy Rivera, Department of Health XI assistant regional director, said in a virtual press conference on Monday that some patients are still hesitant to reveal their close contacts.

She said truthful information will help speed up the process of locating and testing people who have been exposed to the positive COVID-19 patient.

“Some of the contacts were really not cooperating. Some of them are not giving the exact details, even the patient itself is not providing their clients, if they are working before, they do not give the names of their clients with whom they have exposure to,” she said.

Rivera said even if surveillance teams have tracked down suspected cases, people are not divulging any personal information.

“We are calling them, but they do not divulge anything,” she said. “Even if we introduced ourselves as DOH some of them really are hesitant to give us the details.”

She said DOH has yet to receive the guidelines coming from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) regarding the data-sharing of patient’s information.

Earlier, the IATF decided to adopt the mandatory public disclosure of personal information of COVID-19 patients to boost the efforts of the government in contact tracing. The IATF committed to keeping all information confidential as those are not for public consumption.

“The mandatory disclosure of patient’s information will helpful,” she said. “With this, we can easily identify those who have been exposed to positive patients.”

Currently, the surveillance team is calling relatives, friends, and other contacts who are also hesitant to go to the health centers and even disclose their names.

Under the Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, unauthorized disclosure of private and confidential information pertaining to a patient’s medical condition or treatment, tampering of records or intentionally providing misinformation, non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems, non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern, and non-cooperation of the person or entities identified as having the notifiable disease, or affected by the health event of public concern is prohibited.

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