If you test positive for COVID-19, you might feel worried about your privacy and want to remain anonymous. Your privacy is important and your healthcare providers and public health officials will always respect this.
Learn how the Government and other healthcare workers keep your information confidential and the importance of privacy when it comes to COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Testing Is Confidential
From start to finish, all COVID-19 test information is run by registered healthcare practitioners and laboratory professionals. As such, your test results are confidential. They are known only by you and a small team of essential staff who are all legally and professionally required to keep that information confidential.
The following outlines how your test results are recorded:
- All your samples are clearly labelled from the start of the process with you and checked multiple times through the process
- Your results are given to your healthcare provider or general practitioner, often through an automatic hospital information system, or the same process which is used to share any other results
- All results relating to Notifiable Diseases (such as dengue, or the flu, or measles, or COVID-19) are also shared with the Public Health Department so they can monitor any outbreaks
- Your practitioners and the Public Health professionals always treat your information as private and confidential.
It is important to note that the aggregated information shared by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) or Medical Officer of Health (MOH) during the COVID-19 Government updates is meant to inform the population of the spread of infection in the Cayman Islands. To protect patient privacy, the CMO or MOH shares minimal information such as the number of positive cases and the status of the patients, whether asymptomatic or symptomatic.
The names of individuals are never shared with anyone other than your doctor and the Public Health professionals.
For more information on how you can receive test results click here.
Why Confidentiality Is Important
Healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, are duty bound to keep your health information secure and are legally obliged to protect patient privacy. While we share the numbers of results received daily, we do not share this information in a way that would identify you.
We understand that there is added stress on individuals who are COVID-19 positive or who had COVID-19 and now have recovered. Fears of being ‘outed’ in public, blamed for catching the disease, or losing support from one’s social circle have the potential to impact a person’s mental health. Therefore, the Government is striving to ensure that people who have or had COVID-19 do not feel stigmatised or singled-out for something that can happen to anyone.
Data Protection Is The Law
While curfew has led to a necessary curtailing of public freedom, temporarily to save lives, human rights such as personal privacy continue to be respected in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands Data Protection Law promotes fair and lawful use of personal data and ensures it is kept secure. Keeping your test results confidential is part of our commitment under the law.
Individuals who receive your test results must ensure that these results are only used for proper purposes, for example, treating a patient at the hospital.
Any medical or administrative staff members who release sensitive personal data without being authorised to do so can be guilty of an offence under the Data Protection Law and liable on conviction to a fine of up to $100,000. Read more here.
In addition, releasing such information could violate other Cayman Islands laws relating to defamation, harassment or incitement.
The public is reminded that the Data Protection Law also applies to employers and private citizens who disclose information about another person’s health, such as whether they have COVID-19, which may result in the same penalties outlined above. You can find out more about your rights and responsibilities at www.ombudsman.ky
So Who Should You Share Your Results With?
There's only one group of people who need to know that they have come into contact with somebody who has COVID-19, apart from the healthcare professionals. These are people who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person and who may be at risk of contracting COVID-19, including persons who they live with such as family members, partners, or roommates.
If you share a household with other people they need to isolate with you. For more information on how to self-isolate please click here.
You do not have to share your results with people you have come into contact with that you do not live with.
During contact-tracing, Public Health will contact people you have identified on your behalf. They do not need to disclose your name or details if you do not wish. Remember, Public Health nurses are trained to maintain patient confidentiality and will not disclose any details of your medical records to others.
You may wish to tell your employer, but you do not have to unless your job would normally require you to do so, such as if you are a healthcare worker.
You also do not need to tell:
- friends, family or people you have not had physical contact with recently
- the press or social media
If you test positive for COVID-19, Public Health will provide you with support and guidance on what, if anything, to tell your employer based on your need to isolate until you have recovered.
Reporting A Personal Data Breach
If your test results are shared or used in a way that breaches your right to privacy or a specific provision of the Data Protection Law, please let us know. To complain about a breach of the Data Protection Law, you can also call the Ombudsman on 946-6283 or email email@example.com.