As we noted earlier, one of the three amendments of Statutory Instrument (SI) 134 requires the Director of Health Services(DHS), Marvin Manzanero to release the names of all COVID-19 positive patients to the Minister of National Security. This amendment has received heavy opposition considering that the Director of Health Services can be criminally charged for not pulling through with his end of the bargain and there would be a breach of patient confidentiality. Several medical practitioners and attorneys have shared their discontent with the SI which was released late yesterday evening. Love News spoke to Attorney-at-law Audrey Matura who disagrees with the SI in its present form, mainly for infringing on the rights of medical patients.
Audrey Matura, Attorney- at- Law: “I think it was a grave disrespect for Dr.Manzanero not to know about this provision before it was made public that’s one and second that he as a medical professional would not be given the courtesy to have an input and a dialogue as to what it entails to see if it is even needed. From the legal perspective now it has to be clear that our constitution at section fourteen says that your private information, your private life, your medical status is part of your privacy, should not be made public it cannot be arbitrarily given out, you can’t just blast people about their privacy and their reputation. However that same constitution says that there is an exception, the exception is where it is being done for good reason but provisions are madenreasonable provisions are made because it’s being done for public safety or public health or national security. So let’s say that would be their argument. This legislation when you read it makes no reasonable provision it just says to the DHS hand over the information of all those who tested positive, hand over the information to all those who are in isolation and if you don’t it’s a criminal offence. Now this is outright a blatant abuse of the law. It is not balancing what the law allows and doesn’t allow to say okay it doesn’t allow you to just give out information but the exception is where there are these issues but when there are these issues there are there are mechanisms we need to put in place to make sure there’s not any abuse and misuse it’s silent on that aspect. So I believe as it stands it’s a terrible legislation, it would create more panic and more problem than any solution. As a medical practitioner there is an oath they take, there’s an obligation they have to protect patient privacy. Although he’s DHS giving all this information and he’s doesn’t do the test himself because he’s the Director of Health Services all those people fall under that criteria as though they’re his patients so he cannot just give out the information. So he has that basis and the second one is that even if they are saying okay you need to give it out under an exception they have not stated what the exception is and they have not shown in that legislation okay you have to give it out because the exception is for public safety but here are the provisions we made that there’s no abuse on this issue of public safety. For example let’s say they said we’re doing it for public safety because the police needs to know where everybody in isolation is so that they can put someone to stand guard to protect that person so that nobody comes and harass them because they’re positive and so that is the reason and the only thing we’re using it for, if the law says that he might say oh that’s not a problem so it means then who gets access to it and what happens if that information comes out ? There has to be provisions then what would happen, what would be the penalty as to what that provision if they breach it but as it stands they just hand it over to the Minister of National Security so if it’s blasted all over Facebook what happens ? There’s no law, there’s no protection, there’s no provision, you’ve destroyed the person’s life who do you go sue? We don’t even have a cyber bullying legislation. So under the mechanisms that we have right now it is not the best way to go that’s the reality. It’s a poorly thought out legislation and it’s reactionary, it’s rabid and it’s irrational.”
Two other amendments were made including churches that are now able to open with no more than ten people. The other is for restaurants that can have dine-in customers by reservations only and no more than 10 people. Also, these establishments must have a restaurant license.