'Privacy keeps everybody safe': Officials defend tight-lipped approach to COVID-19 patient info
VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials are defending the decision to hold back certain details on the spread of the COVID-19 virus amid growing public frustration.
Parents who received a letter after the sixth positive case of the virus that said contacts of that patient may have visited a school in the Fraser Health region wanted more information.
“They won't say which school it is or which city it’s in, so parents like me are thinking you know should I be extra worried?” said Jeanette Bollinger whose son has special needs and respiratory issues. She would keep him home if she knew his school had potential exposure to the virus.
But Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said there’s a good reason they didn’t identify the specific school. “If we do name a specific school it’s unfortunate but that school would be targeted, and those individuals would be targeted, and we know that that happens. And that would discourage anybody else from trusting that they can contact us and work with us.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix echoed those comments, saying the province needs people with symptoms to know if they come forward they won’t be publicly identified.
“Privacy keeps everybody safe, and that’s why we're going to continue to protect people's privacy as much as possible,” said Dix.
The province plans to continue its policy of only naming the health region when a new case of the virus is identified, as long as officials can privately contact anyone who that person may have come in close contact with.
”It’s really important to us that people have that trust, so people know if there is a risk to the public you will be told,” said Henry. “Otherwise let us do our work, and make sure we're protecting people as best we can.”