Personnel dealing with COVID-19 trained to maintain confidentiality

privacy exercised during contact tracing

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony has said medical teams and staff tasked with informing persons of their COVID-19 test results, as well as those conducting contact-tracing are professionals who are expected to maintain confidentiality.

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Frank Anthony

Dr. Anthony said he is not aware of any instance where an employer requested and was granted information concerning an employee’s test result as a COVID-19 diagnosis is considered confidential medical information. The Minister made these statements in response to questions posed to him during Wednesday’s COVID-19 update.

“Our protocol has been and still is, if somebody present themselves to one of our facilities for testing, and they meet the requirement for testing, then we will do that and when the test is completed, if it’s an antigen test, they can get back the results right here within 30 minutes. If it’s a PCR test, then you get that back within a 24-hour period. Once the lab has completed the test, those results are then sent to the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) and disseminated to the region.”

Once the results have been submitted to the Region, personnel tasked with relaying the information to persons who were tested will follow-up by telephoning them directly to inform them of their status.

“If they’re positive, then they would be given additional instructions as to what to do. For example, how they can isolate, they have a checklist that they will have to go through. If you are positive, you also have to remain at home for that 10 days and persons would be checking in with you during that period, to see how you’re doing and checking symptoms and so forth,” Dr. Anthony said.

The Minister further explained that if a person remains asymptomatic after the mandatory ten-day isolation period, that person would be discharged and would be issued with a discharge certificate.  Dr. Anthony said this has been the established protocol which the Ministry has employed over several months.

“We don’t share the information that a particular person might have been positive. But we alert others who might have come into contact with that person to get them into quarantine so that we can observe them and determine whether they have any signs or symptoms or, in some cases, to get them to come in to do antigen or PCR tests to ascertain whether they’ve been exposed, whether they’re positive.”

Minister Anthony said the importance of confidentiality when dealing with medical information is one aspect of the Ministry’s training programme which is continually reinforced.  

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.