Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 17, 2020 (SKNIS): Patient confidentiality is of utmost concern for the Ministry of Health and health institutions in St. Kitts and Nevis. Medical Chief of Staff of the Joseph N. France General Hospital, Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, cited this as the primary reason behind the decision to curtail some information regarding COVID-19 confirmed cases.
Previous announcements of confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus included the age, sex, nationality, and the island where the person resides. How the virus was contracted was also given. The information was shared as part of the Ministry of Health’s commitment, and that of the government, to be fully transparent. Unfortunately, the details have led to a frenzied guessing game on social media and created an unhelpful campaign of misinformation.
“When you give a significant amount of information as it relates to the race, age, and gender, persons have been tracking down persons and doing some of the worst things that you would expect people not to be doing in a [pandemic] like this,” Dr. Wilkinson stated. “Putting persons’ pictures on Facebook etc. Sometimes they have [posted] the wrong picture. Now, what are we to do, call and say that is the wrong person so that when they have the right person, we say oh you have the right person? We need to protect persons confidentiality.”
The medical chief of staff noted that many countries merely list the number of confirmed cases during public briefings. However, he indicated that local authorities will still provide critical information for public safety and health as it relates to positive results.
“What we will do, in time, is provide the data so that persons can look at the trends and so maybe at the end of the month we would say of the 14 [confirmed] cases they were divided by age, sex etc.,” he said.
Dr. Wilkinson added, “For all those persons out there who are saying ‘yes we should give this information out’ you would say yes until it is you, your mother, your father. And sometimes persons only understand the severity of a situation when it touches home.”
The JNF official shared that he knows what some persons went through when they were “tracked down” and insisted “we need to protect every single one.”