In a shocking incident in J&K's Baramulla district, coronavirus patient's list was leaked online with personal details of the doctors who have tested positive for the virus. The list has been making the rounds on social media and in WhatsApp groups, raising questions about the lack of responsibility in the way the district's health department is keeping the identity of the coronavirus patients confidential.
The list includes personal details of doctors, including their phone numbers, addresses and pregnancy status. One doctor's pregnancy status has become the talking point to criticize the health department without realizing that it is a gender-neutral name. The list had mentioned one doctor had tested positive for the contagion, who is also pregnant. Many criticized that the health department had tagged the male doctor as pregnant.
DC's clarification stirs trouble
To make the matters worse, Deputy Commissioner of Baramulla G.N. Itoo allegedly issued a clarification in the matter, saying that "Dr. ***** is a lady doctor and is also pregnant." The officer had allegedly stated that she was undergoing treatment in the hospital and urged people to not spread fake news. This statement from Dr. Itoo was shared in internal WhatsApp groups.
Revealing COVID-19 patient identity punishable offence
But, in doing so, the deputy commissioner allegedly added insult to the injury by exposing the identity of a coronavirus patient, which is prohibited by the law. Revealing the identity of coronavirus patients is treated as a punishable offence. In April, the central government issued an advisory in which it said that the identity of those affected by coronavirus or under quarantine should not be identified.
In some cities, police has booked individuals for revealing the identity of coronavirus patients. In April, three people were booked by Begusarai police for allegedly revealing the identity of a COVID-19 patient on social media platforms. The Odisha government had also loved cases against people trying to reveal the identity of infected persons in April.
International Business Times, India, reached out to Dr. Itoo for clarification on the matter. He responded to our request for comment via text, saying: "She is a lady doctor and right now in COVID hospital JVC Srinagar." He did not reveal the name of the doctor to us.
(The article has been updated with Dr. Itoo's statement)