Citing the Ministry of Health’s strict policy of patient confidentiality, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram refused to confirm reports of whether or not a talk show host was diagnosed with the coronavirus disease.
Responding to questions from reporters at a media briefing at the Ministry of Health, Park Street, Port of Spain, on Wednesday, both Deyalsingh and Parasram said it would be inappropriate for them to comment on the condition of the person.
On Tuesday night a series of emotionally charged videos in which the host admitted to having contracted the disease were circulated on WhatsApp.
“Patient confidentiality takes precedence, from the first case onward we have not shared the identity and the address. We cannot do that and we will not do that.
“However if there is anyone who suspects they may be in contact with someone who they suspect or is a confirmed coronavirus case, they need to contact the 877-WELL (9355) hotline or any of the health centres at their earliest point,” Parasram said.
Deyalsingh referred to the Patients’ Charter of Rights and said all patients were entitled to their privacy and he would not disclose the identity of anyone who may be receiving treatment for the coronavirus. The minister said if he ever broke that confidentiality, it would be an issue over which he would resign, adding the Prime Minister would not have to ask him to do so.
For his part, National Security Minister Stuart Young said people who recently returned from travelling and failed to isolate themselves were irresponsible.
Young also said it was possible for someone who knowingly exposed themselves to the public after returning from travel to face criminal charges.
“Under the Quarantine Act, or the Public Health Ordinance regulations we just put in place that is guiding us. That can lead to a $50,000 fine or six months imprisonment.
“Right now that is just negligence, if someone has covid19, knows they have the disease and then exposes themselves to others, well then they have criminal law to deal with.”
Sources said employers of the host’s talk show were contacted by officials from the Ministry of Health on Wednesday who urged them to quarantine themselves at home.