Professor David McQuoid-Mason of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.
Professor David McQuoid-Mason of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.

Covid-19: what to do if you or someone you know has it?

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Apr 4, 2020

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Durban - Professor David McQuoid-Mason, an authority on medical law and member of the Medical Rights Advocacy Network, answers some of the most commonly asked questions about confidentiality and responsibilities when a person has been diagnosed with Covid-19:

1. Is a person entitled to confidentiality if they have the virus?

Yes. If they live alone and are self-isolating. If living with others who might be endangered, they have to inform them of their status.

Once they tested positive, their personal details will be reported to the authorities by the laboratory and the Covid-19 tracing database.

However, their status will be kept confidential in respect of other people.

The Corona Regulation states in Regulation 11(5): “No person may disclose any information contained in the Covid-19 tracing database or any information obtained through this regulation unless authorised to do so and unless the disclosure is necessary for the purpose of addressing, preventing or combating the spread of Covid-19. Any failure to comply with this is a criminal offence.”

2. If you think you have the virus, who has the right to know?

You need to get tested, and if you test positive, the answer in question 1 applies.

3. Would it be an offence if you thought you had the virus and did not tell anyone?

Yes.

It could be if you failed to get tested after showing the symptoms, and endangered others and were reckless as to whether or not you infected them - you would be judged to have the eventual intention to infect them and could be prosecuted under Regulation 11(6) which reads as follows: Any person who intentionally exposes another person to Covid-19 may be prosecuted for an offence, including assault, attempted murder or murder.

4. If someone falsely accuses another of having the virus, either on social media or to others in your community, is the accuser guilty of an offence?

Yes.

The Disaster Management Regulations, Regulation 11(4) and (5) read as follows: Any person who intentionally misrepresents that he, she or any other person is infected with Covid-19 is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Any person who publishes any statement, through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about - (a) Covid-19; (b) Covid-19 infection status of any person; or (c) any measure taken by the government to address Covid-19 commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or both such fine and imprisonment.

The Independent on Saturday

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