MINISTER OF HEALTH CORRECTS MISLEADING MEDIA STATEMENTS SURROUNDING THIRD COVID-19 RELATED DEATH
First and foremost, I and my Ministry would once again like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. Losing a loved one is hard under any circumstance but the fact that it was sudden makes it that much harder.
I am deeply concerned by a recent misleading article in the media, which infers an intent on my part to deceive the people of the TCI. The article, which states, “a third death for COVID-19 ,which was conveniently not mentioned by the Minister during the press conference today,” was released following the joint press conference held by the Hon. Deputy Premier and myself, and my later statement informing the public of the recent death.
Let me assure the public that there was no intent to deceive anyone, nothing was “conveniently” left out. I take my duty and responsibility as your representative extremely seriously, and as a health professional myself, I am committed to informing the public with factually based information.
Given the sensitive situation and the fact that my ministry was, at that time, still conducting investigations and ensuring every possible attempt was made to locate the family of the deceased for proper notification of death, in this particular case, it would not have been appropriate to make such an announcement during the press conference.
Following a full briefing by my ministry, and taking deep consideration of the public interest, the time that had passed and the limited success in identifying the family of the deceased, the decision was made to notify the public.
The fact that it was a sudden death, and despite the individual not being known to be symptomatic for Covid-19, health professionals decided to use an abundance of caution and a swab was taken, which returned a positive result. The mere presence of a particular illness does not mean that that illness is the cause of death, so it is incumbent upon medical professionals to ensure that causes of death are accurate. As standard procedure, the Coroner would have ensured that other possible causes of death were ruled out and that COVID-19 was the primary factor in the recent death.
Our medical professionals practice the highest standards and I am appalled at the innuendo that they are anything but professional. The media should be trying to show support for the work of our professionals during this pandemic, not make misleading and damaging comments that undermines public trust.
Everyone has a role to play during this public health emergency, and the media’s role is to provide timely, accurate and credible information to the public. My ministry is committed to assisting the media in providing that information to the best of our abilities. After all, we are all in this together. Mask up TCI, wash your hands and please remember to social distance when and where you can, or try to avoid crowded places. If you have symptoms or want information please call our coronavirus hotline at 333-0911 or 232-9444, and visit our website: www.gov.tc/moh/coronavirus.