Ethics guidance on key issues raised by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, 16 March 2020
Pan American Health Organization
MetadataShow full item record
Health authorities are tasked with protecting the health of the population and responding to public health emergencies. An adequate health response to public health emergencies, such as the current WHO-declared COVID-19 pandemic, requires up-todate information. To obtain this information, health authorities have the duty to conduct surveillance and to act without delay on the basis of information obtained. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, surveillance is needed to reduce some of the uncertainty that surrounds the virus and its consequences. Health authorities must ensure that the information is collected rigorously, that all relevant cases are reported, and that data are managed responsibly, always taking the benefit of the population into account. As in other cases of surveillance, during the pandemic public health authorities may need to collect personal data or samples. While informed consent may not be required for such data collection, the information must be collected in a respectful manner, safeguarding the privacy of individuals, maintaining confidentiality to the extent possible, and providing information about the data collection in a transparent manner. Public health authorities also have the ethical duty to implement interventions that are already known to work.