Screen shot of Facebook post by local Prince Rupert doctor on April 7, announced Prince Rupert’s first confirmed presumptive COVID-19 case.

Prince Rupert doctor amends social media statement on COVID-19

College of Physicians said information must not be disclosed

After an original social media post on April 7 which announced Prince Rupert’s first confirmed presumptive COVID-19 case, Dr. Marius Pienaar has amended the post to reflect a more generalized comment, and deleted all reference to specific local diagnoses or patient circumstance.

Many in Prince Rupert applauded and praised Dr. Pienaar’s stance in vocalizing the current COVID-19 situation in the City, while the College of Physicians and Surgeons British Columbia held a different position.

READ MORE: UPDATE: First presumptive case of COVID-19 in Prince Rupert

“The College has recently learned of instances where information has been posted on social media or provided to the press about individual patient cases and test results, including the identification of certain smaller communities. This is not acceptable,” the CPSBC said on its website with an undisclosed posting date or time.

“Physicians must not disclose information about individual patients in any setting, including stories shared directly with other people, even if patient identities are not revealed. The risk of a privacy breach is too great.”

“In the event of a complaint from an affected patient, a breach of this nature may be considered unprofessional conduct,” the College said.

Pienaar said in his original Facebook post on April 7,

“Dear Citizens of PR. Finally IT has happened. COVID is here!

Every community, including ours, has to act as if it already has cases.

This is a reminder to keep following the recommended rules re Covid. (Wash your hands. Stay at home. Keep a safe distance. etc.) And with the long weekend looming, please do not welcome visitors, family or otherwise, and stay isolated at home. The virus is here, amongst us. Now is not the time to relax our vigilance,” Pienaar said in the original post.

The College said that during this unprecedented situation the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are anxious to hear the latest news about COVID-19, especially about the number of cases and the extraordinary steps that the public need take to prevent further spread.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

The amended post by Pienaar now has all reference to the patient or the patient’s condition removed.

“Dear Citizens of PR. Finally IT has happened. COVID is here!

Every community, including ours, has to act as if it already has cases.

This is a reminder to keep following the recommended rules re Covid. (Wash your hands. Stay at home. Keep a safe distance. etc.) And with the long weekend looming, please do not welcome visitors, family or otherwise, and stay isolated at home. The virus is here, amongst us. Now is not the time to relax our vigilance,” Pienaar said in the amended post.

“The College has been working closely with Dr. Bonnie Henry and her office to ensure timely messages are delivered to physicians. As the provincial health officer, Dr. Henry is in constant touch with her national counterparts, the Ministry of Health and the health authorities, and is therefore the most qualified spokesperson to provide British Columbians with factual and timely updates about COVID-19. During her updates, Dr. Henry is taking great care to ensure the privacy of individuals who are affected, which of course is of utmost importance,” the College website said.

“Please follow the guidance of the provincial health officer and refrain from adding to the confusion and anxiety by posting alarming messages or storytelling,” CPSBC said,”Patients should be obtaining the latest and most up-to-date information from Dr. Henry’s daily news conferences and the BC Centre for Disease Control website.”

Calls from the The Northern View to the CPSBC and Dr. Pienaar have not been immediately returned.


 
K-J Millar | Journalist 
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