Does privacy trumpet the public’s need to know?
It’s a question that has been asked by many on social media in recent weeks with the government and health authority response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the question of is there any reported cases in Delta, was asked by a resident during the City of Delta’s virtual town hall meeting.
Delta North NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon was on hand with Mayor George Harvie and Delta police Chief Neil Dubord.
“So the health authority doesn’t actually release numbers by community, but we should assume that there are cases and take the precautions that are in place,” said Khalon. “Wash your hands, practice physical distance and ensure that you can go out to get groceries or take a walk, but practice those principles. We do get information released to us when a care home has a case, but they don’t release the numbers by community-specific, just because we don’t want to stigmatize people who may have this situation in their home.”
The Fraser Health Authority also answered an inquiry from the Optimist.
Media spokesperson Dixon Tam said the province has been providing and will continue to provide information about confirmed cases.
“Every time there is a positive test in B.C., public health connects with anyone who may have come into contact with the case so they are aware and can be monitored for symptoms,” Tam said. “Fraser Health will not provide personal details about involved for privacy reasons. We will not be identifying the specific location of confirmed cases unless public health providers cannot be certain they have reached all those who need to be contacted and who therefor might be a risk to the public.”
Tam said Fraser Health wants people who have symptoms to contact them, and to feel safe contacting them, knowing their privacy will be protected so the steps to protect the health and safety for all can be taken.
“This is why privacy is important to everyone. It allows public health providers to do the work they need to do to keep everybody safe,” said Tam. “B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is urging all British Columbians, in all communities, to take action and to assume COVID-19 may be circulating within their community – whether they believe there has been a positive case or not.”