The rising number of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 cases in the provinces has been a cause for worry for many in recent days. With the harrowing specter of local transmission now looming over the residents of our island that had managed to keep a lid on COVID-19 cases throughout most of the lengthy quarantine period, our best weapon for protecting ourselves, aside from the usual precautionary measures most of us already integrated into our daily living is access to timely information.
Government has been giving daily updates on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, including information such as the patient’s age and place of residence. Assuming that these infected persons have already been secured and quarantined, the lack of a comprehensive, science and technology driven, and effective contact tracing system still makes the general population vulnerable to infection from persons they may have unknowingly passed the virus to.
The more information the public has on potential COVID-19 hotspots, the better we can make adjustments or intensify precautions to avoid infection. We would appreciate it if government can find a way to make more relevant information available without compromising the privacy and safety of those confirmed with COVID-19 and their loved ones.
Aside from government, other affected and vulnerable establishments such as hospitals, banks, and malls should also make it a priority to share relevant COVID-19 information rather than withhold it from the public. A case in point is in Bacolod where a health worker was found positive with COVID-19 and the infected person’s employer, a private hospital, has so far inexplicably chosen to remain silent.
Hospitals play a crucial role during a health crisis and the lack of transparency that has been fueling the rumor mill is doing everyone more harm than good. Aside from adding to the confusion and uncertainty, its staff and employees, as well as those of other health care facilities, could become vulnerable to discrimination from a public that has not been informed of the real score.
We are all in this together. The more we know, the better we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from potential COVID-19 infections, especially now that the threat of local transmission can no longer be ignored. We cannot encourage individuals to accurately disclose important health and travel information if health care providers cannot even take the lead.*