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Private info on 490 central Japan coronavirus patients accidently released online

Employees at the Aichi Prefectural Government are seen apologizing for releasing private information on people infected with the novel coronavirus, at Aichi Prefectural Government headquarters in Nagoya on May 5, 2020. (Mainichi/Masakatsu Oka)

NAGOYA -- Private information on 490 people in this central Japan prefecture who have been confirmed infected with the novel coronavirus, including their hospitalization details, was accidentally published online on May 5 for around 45 minutes, according to an announcement by the Aichi Prefectural Government on the same day.

Among those who had their details exposed, 396 of them had their real names released to the public. The prefectural government said it has so far not confirmed any cases of the information being used for malicious purposes.

Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura has released a statement, saying, "We allowed something unacceptable to happen, and for that we deeply apologize."

The error came from a tabular file called the "list of cases occurring inside the prefecture." It includes information current up to May 4 of all confirmed cases in Aichi Prefecture, as well as on the patients' hospitalizations and transfers, when they were admitted for medical care and when they were released, and whether their infection was part of a cluster. The 396 people whose hospitalizations were not independently decided by the prefecture's three core city governments also had their names publicized in the error.

The private information was available for anyone to look at online from about 9:30 a.m. on May 5 until around 10:15 a.m. on the same day. The page was accessed 362 times before the alarm was raised by a resident of the prefecture and the information deleted.

According to the prefectural government, an employee in charge of the data who received a publishable version of the original file, which didn't include personal data, accidentally put the original online instead. Rules are in place to have a second party check documents upon upload to ensure they are correct, but no checks were performed in this case.

(Japanese original by Masakatsu Oka, Nagoya News Center)

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