AN OUTBREAK of a particularly infectious sickness bug at a leading Newport hotel is pretty important news, particularly when more than 70 people have become ill as a result.
Yet this newspaper is only able to report the norovirus outbreak at the city’s Hilton hotel because of an anonymous whistleblower.
We then took the allegations to Public Health Wales, who confirmed the outbreak had affected 51 guests and 23 staff at the hotel.
Is that really how such important information is provided to the public – via an anonymous tip-off to a newspaper?
Surely Public Health Wales – and, in this instance, the hotel and Newport council – has a duty to inform people of an outbreak of such a bug?
It seems ludicrous to us that a body that has as one of its statutory functions “…making information about matters related to the protection…of health in Wales available to the public” waits until it gets a call from us before it tells people about a norovirus outbreak that appears to have started a full week ago.
We are not suggesting the hotel, or the council, or Public Health Wales took no action over this outbreak. They all did the right things. But giving the public information was also the right thing to do.
This incident is sadly indicative of a growing trend among public bodies. They would say they are managing information.
We would say they are suppressing it.