Removal of zip codes harms Covid-19 data tracking in Brazil

Removal of zip codes harms Covid-19 data tracking in Brazil

Researchers from think tank LabCidade, which operates under the umbrella of the Architecture and Urbanism College of the University of São Paulo, have warned about a new obstacle in Covid-19 data analysis: the removal of hospitalized patients’ zip codes from the governments’ database. Tracking zip codes registered on the DataSUS system, researchers have created an interactive map showing the concentration of cases and deaths in São Paulo, in an attempt to spot more vulnerable areas and increase prevention. But since the Ministry of Health changed its system, this information was removed from all datasheets available, including previous archives. 

“This change makes it harder to understand how the pandemic is spreading across the Brazilian territory, also limiting the creation of proper strategies to fight it off,” wrote LabCidade’s team. 

The Ministry of Health said postal codes are sensitive information that could identify the patients and, therefore, were removed, in accordance with the General Data Protection Law (LGPD), set to be enforced in August. “The Ministry, by way of DataSUS, will study a way to create geographical identification respecting the privacy and intimacy of the citizens,” says the note.

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