Sichuan Party chief stresses privacy protection in response to cyber bullying of COVID-19 patient

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/9 14:26:40

Passengers take a train of the Line 1 of Chengdu Metro in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Xi)

The Party chief of Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Wednesday called for patients' privacy to be protected after the leaking of personal information of a 20-year-old COVID-19 female patient sparked wide public concern on cyber bullying.

During his inspection tour in Chengdu on Wednesday morning, Peng Qinghua, secretary of the Sichuan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, called for patients' privacy to be protected, psychological counseling to be conducted among the public and a resolute crackdown on cyber bullying. 

In the meantime, a man was given administrative punishment by Chengdu police on Wednesday for posting a photo containing the patient Zhao's personal information and record of movements, local police announced.

The 20-year-old woman, surnamed Zhao from the provincial capital Chengdu, who was confirmed as a patient on Tuesday, was targeted online and labeled by some netizens as the person to blame for the Chengdu outbreak after epidemiological investigations showed she had made frequent visits to social venues, bars and clubs across the city.

Zhao posted a statement on Wednesday on social media, saying that she has received many phone calls and text messages since her personal information was leaked. 

"I was only accidentally infected with the coronavirus, and I am also a victim," she said.

Zhao, who was in medical quarantine in a local hospital, said she was a salesperson at local bars, and cooperated with relevant authorities immediately after being confirmed as having the virus. 

Zhao is the granddaughter of an elderly couple who were confirmed as patients on Monday. 

Zhao said in the post that she did not know that her grandmother had been confirmed as a COVID-19 patient when she visited those public venues. 

She apologized to residents in Chengdu for "causing trouble." 

It's not known how Zhao's information was leaked, and local police said on Tuesday that they were investigating the case. 

The case has drawn wide public attention and has been on the hot topic list on Sina Weibo since Tuesday. 

The case also highlighted the issue of personal information protection amid COVID-19, as epidemic prevention and control measures in many cities require residents to write down or register their personal information including ID number, cell phone number and photos when visiting public venues. 

According to the Beijing News, the majority of 27 Beijing office buildings, shopping malls and restaurants visited by reporters that required visitors to submit personal information regularly destroy the written information, but some just leave the register books open on tables. 

Legal experts said that shop owners or property management department employees can be punished according to criminal law if they leak or sell the personal information of visitors, the Beijing News reported. 

Global Times


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