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Source: Privacy Commissioner

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says his office is undertaking an inquiry into the distribution of Covid-19 patient details by the Ministry of Health.

The decision follows the release last week of Michael Heron QC’s report into the recent Covid-19 patient privacy breach.

Mr Edwards says the State Services Commissioner referred the report to his office for consideration of what further action, if any, under the Privacy Act was appropriate.

“The New Zealand public needs to have confidence that the sensitive health information of Covid-19 patients is not being distributed more widely than it needs to be, and for any necessary dissemination to be done safely.

“I hope the outcome of my inquiry will have implications for the future distribution of Covid-19 patient information, given that the course of the global pandemic has a long way to go yet, and that we will continue to see cases in New Zealand.”

Given the finding of the Heron inquiry, the Commissioner has decided not to inquire further into the disclosure of information by Michelle Boag and the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust unless approached by one or more of the affected individuals.

The Commissioner expects to be able to publicly report on his findings and recommendations in early September.

The inquiry’s Terms of Reference can be viewed here.