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MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Multinational professional services network Deloitte Philippines confirmed on Saturday, March 7, that one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Deloitte Philippines, which made the statement in a Facebook post on Saturday, said the employee was being treated at a hospital.
“The colleague is currently in hospital receiving treatment and further tests, and Deloitte is supporting the colleague and family in every way we can,” it said.
The company said that “the health and safety of our people, our clients, and out community is our highest priority, and our immediate response has been to take all necessary actions to manage the situation.”
“Deloitte Philippines continues to comply with the instruction and directions from the Department of Health. All necessary actions were promptly taken to inform those who might have come into contact with the colleague for the appropriate checks and provide any possible form of support,” it added.
The company did not say in its statement whether the employee was one of the two new COVID-19 patients in the country but Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano confirmed this in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Cayetano said that the patient, whose office is located in Bonifacio Global City, was put under surveillance of the City Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit (CEDSU) and was admitted to RITM the following day.
“He is currently receiving treatment there and his condition is stable. We continue to monitor his medical status while our CEDSU and city officials have been in close coordination with the concerned property managers. Contact tracing and proper management are ongoing,” he said.
The patient visited Japan and returned to Manila on February 25.
The Taguig mayor also said that local government unit has been in constant communication with the DOH and has been aggressive in reinforcing a two-pronged approach of fighting the virus – through prevention and protection, and monitoring and reporting.
“The City Government encourages everyone to source their information only from reliable channels and stay calm,” Cayetano said. (LIST: Where to get official, reliable info on novel coronavirus)
The Deloitte Philippines announcement was apparently made without the knowledge of the Department of Health (DOH).
Following the announcement, the DOH reminded the public that any official announcement regarding COVID-19 cases in the country should only be made by the government, and that anyone with such information should immediately relay it to the DOH for proper handling.
“Only the Secretary of Health has the authority to release such details,” Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview on DZMM, citing protocols observed by the government in announcing new cases.
She said the DOH is “very careful with the personal information of our patients” as provided under the Data Privacy Act.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reiterated this in a press briefing on Saturday, saying that any official announcements on COVID-19 cases in the country should come from the DOH, and urged those with such information to coordinate with the department.
“Our objectives for sharing information are two-pronged: ensure the public’s health and safety by facilitating contact tracing and ensure that the individual’s right to privacy is not impinged. Hence, we appeal to all to coordinate closely with the Department of Health when disseminating information to the public and within their respective institutions,” he said.
“Let us make sure the information sharing process will yield the utmost benefit, and avoid unnecessary stress and stigma to individuals and institutions. The DOH commits to be more circumspect in reporting confirmed cases, to balance interests of public health and privacy. To this end only pertinent information necessary to facilitate contact tracing will be provided to the public, i.e. activity, location and time, if available,” he added.
As of Saturday afternoon, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is 6. – With a report from Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com