Patients who refuse to provide personal information to be publicly outed

Patients who refuse to provide personal information to be publicly outed

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize outside the entrance to The Ranch Resort where the repatriated South Africans from Wuhan have been quarantined, 13 March 2020, Polokwane. Picture: Jacques Nelles

If the government feels the patient’s infection could pose a risk to others, it could publish his or her name to get hold of people who the patient has been in contact with.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned South Africans the government will take decisive steps to deal with people infected with Covid-19 who refuse to provide their personal information.

Mkhize said should a patient refuse to provide the government with personal information – including a list of contacts – it would disclose his or her name to the public.

He was speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a national lockdown to fight Covid-19.

“We will go to the extent of making a public announcement that anyone who has come into contact with that specific person must present themselves.”

Mkhize said regulations allowed the government to do this.

“While we know that there is an ethical obligation not to disclose patient information, with this outbreak we will exercise Regulation 18 which states that information concerning a case, contact or a carrier of the virus may be disclosed for the purpose of public health surveillance, investigation and interventions.”

If the government feels the patient’s infection could pose a risk to others, it could publish his or her name to either call on their contacts to compel the patient to come forward or for those contacts to come forward themselves.

“We really want to leave no stone unturned to be able to deal with this issue to reduce the spread of infections,” Mkhize said.

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