Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram is upset that patient information related to this country's first COVID-19 death, as well as nationals who are on a self-quarantine monitoring list given to the police, emerged on social media.
During Thursday's post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, Parasram said reiterated that sharing such information constituted a breach of patient confidentiality.
"The information that you have, you should not have had in the first place. The information that you have is circulating from someone's private notes that was sent out through Facebook. It is a breach of patient confidentiality.
"I have already spoken to the CEO to find out how that breach occurred. It should not be in the public domain, that is too much information," Parasram said as he defended the long time period between the patient's official time of death and the eventual public announcement of his passing by the Ministry of Health.
"Our policy and procedure is that the family, the relatives have to be informed first," he said.
"When this occurred, we would have taken all the necessary steps to communicate with family. Some of the relatives are abroad and I don't want to say too much about it to let out information."
Prior to the ministry's announcement of 77-year-old US national Hansel Leon's death, the information had already been circulating on social media, while Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar issued a statement confirming the death hours before the ministry's release.
Again asked if he did not feel feel the public should have been notified of the death given that it was critical to get people the victim may have come into contact with into quarantine, Parasram said, "We have to ensure that the family are well informed prior to doing anything in the press. Relatives are informed and comfortable first before we send anything out."
He stressed that ministry officials were merely following procedure.
"She (Dr. Michelle Trotman) followed the process, we both followed the process. I don't know how the information would have leaked out, I supposed just like everything else prior to that. But we have to follow our process."
Asked if the deceased was an imported or local transmission case, based on the fact that the leaked patient note stated the man arrived in Trinidad in February, Parasram stuck with the prognosis that his case was imported.
"We have said something is imported or not, based on the notes from the actual doctor that saw them. I don't know what this is what is circulating. I have not looked at it in detail," he said.
Parasram was then asked by Prime Minister Dr Kieth Rowley if the incubation period for the virus of 14 days was definitive.
"It is not (definitive) and the research out of China even has indicated that there are outliers in all of this," the CMO said.
"All of us have been working with 14 days and we are hoping to God that it is right. There has been shown viremic patients up to 42 days in the research, some as far as beyond 42 days, documented 21 days and carrying viral illness."
He said despite this instance, he still felt the current system of two daily press releases for COVID-19 updates was sufficient.
Addressing another social media leak of the list of nationals who recently returned home and had been ordered to self-isolate, he said, "We have a list, as I said before, that is not circulating on social media that we shared to the police and there are four pages of lists with persons that came into this country with addresses and phone numbers that are circulating around the media freely, that we meant to send straight from our Port Health department to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. And as of last night (Wednesday), it is circulating throughout the media," the CMO said.
"And that is to be used by the police service, to call those persons letting them know to stay and if they don't stay home the full impact of the Quarantine Act will be put in place. So again, I don't know how it is out there but again it is social media being mischievous."
However, he said the Government's order for all non-essential activity to cease on Sunday became necessary after recent cases of persons not self-isolating upon return from a foreign country, including TV personality Ian Alleyne.
"So I suppose that case that was highlighted in the media shows us what not to do. And that is what we are fighting against and I think the decisions taken today are really to fight against that one particular case, or persons doing exactly the same thing," he said while again not naming the personality directly.
"So what we trying to do is trying to restrict the movement of persons in Trinidad and Tobago, because after saying many times that people should stay at home, obviously the call has not been heeded."