The Philippines marks the first country outside mainland China to record a death from the novel coronavirus. This raised concerns over the government’s transparency about the matter and its ability to handle a possible outbreak in the country.
Now, the country’s government is facing a backlash from the public as its health ministry is questioned over matters of transparency. Dr. Anthony Leachon, a local public health expert urged the Department of Health to openly discuss facts about the matter to avoid panic.
“Under the Data Privacy Act, you can actually tell people things for public safety so the people will not be surprised,” he said, speaking to ANC. “We respect the privacy of course and human rights but we need to know,” he continued.
Criticism sparked after the country’s Health Secretary Francisco Duque III announced on Thursday that there was only one confirmed case of the Wuhan coronavirus in the country. Days later, it was announced that a man had died of the respiratory illness in a separate case. He was the partner of the woman who first tested positive for the coronavirus last week — she was the first confirmed case in the country.
This prompted the public to wonder why it was never disclosed that the man was also infected, given the relationship he had with the woman. Both of them arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan before traveling to three provinces in the country — Manila, Cebu and Negros Oriental.
Authorities say that both were admitted to the San Lazaro Hospital at the same time on the 25th of January.