Why self-disclosure and communication are important in the time of COVID-19 pandemic

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 26)— The case of a COVID-19-positive senator has caused a huge uproar on social media.

Since Wednesday, Facebook and Twitter pages have been filled with comments about Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, who drew flak for violating home quarantine protocols when he had been tested for the infectious disease.

READ: #KokoResign trends after Pimentel admits quarantine breach

Pimentel has since apologized for breaching the infection safety rules, particularly for entering the Makati Medical Center to accompany his wife, who was about to give birth. He also admitted having attended birthday parties and meetings in recent days.

While netizens— including celebrities and athletes — have been vocal, health experts also did not hesitate to weigh in on the issue.

For them, it all boils down to one thing: communication.

Self-disclosure a 'responsibility'

Heart specialist Dr. Gerardo Manzo said it is important for patients— especially those under investigation and monitoring for COVID-19 — to not hold back on any vital information about their cases.

"I think the gist of the issue is disclosure, self-disclosure," Manzo, who is also a Deputy Executive Director at the Philippine Heart Center, told CNN Philippines' The Source.

While there may be a possible "stigma" against COVID-19 patients, the health expert stressed that full disclosure and communication, especially with frontliners who are at risk every day, will help prevent the spread of the disease.

"You are supposed to really be responsible and tell authorities or the hospital that you are consulting that you have this exposure or this finding already, so as to prevent exposing other people, especially the healthcare workers who are actually in the frontlines," he added.

Meanwhile, the MMC hospital management, which earlier denounced Pimentel for "unduly exposing" its healthcare workers, urged the public to do their share in curbing the spread of the infection.

"We fervently pray that none of our healthcare staff will acquire the viral infection. As we make this wish, we plead and urge everyone to do his share in quelling the spread of this infection— especially our nation's duly elected leaders," MMC Medical Director Saturnino Javier said in a statement.

Several doctors have also appealed to patients not to lie about their travel histories, after some colleagues who were not made aware of this information allegedly got exposed to COVID-19.

The Philippines has recorded 636 COVID-19 positive cases, according to the Health Department's latest record. Of this number, 38 people have died, while 26 recovered.

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. It is spread through small droplets from the nose or mouth when people infected with the virus cough or sneeze.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who show respiratory symptoms.