Canada ready for possible Ebola case: Ambrose

Canada ready with quick-response expert team should Ebola arrive, says Ambrose

  • Oct. 15, 2014 6:00 a.m.
NDP health critic Libby Davies asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday

NDP health critic Libby Davies asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Should Ebola arrive on Canadian soil, Health Minister Rona Ambrose says a team of public health experts and epidemiologists is standing by to provide support, expertise, rapid diagnoses and emergency supplies.

Amid growing global anxiety about the spread of the virus, Ambrose met Wednesday with representatives of the national nurses’ union, which has complained of inadequate personal protective gear, training and preparedness for nurses, who would be on the front lines.

She reassured the nurses that they have her full support and that the government is committed to ensuring they have everything they need to feel safe.

And she said the Public Health Agency of Canada would respond to an Ebola case with epidemiologists and experts in infectious disease outbreak management, laboratory expertise to quickly confirm diagnosis, and any needed supplies, such as masks, gloves and face shields.

“It is imperative that all front-line health care workers have guidance and information to deal with Ebola,” Ambrose said in a statement.

“They are the first line of defence against infectious diseases and they must be fully included in all communications.”

Ambrose also held a conference call with her provincial and territorial counterparts to ensure they are fully prepared to deal with the disease should it make an appearance in Canada.

“On this call I encouraged all provinces and territories to look into doing tests runs to ensure protocols are in place, and proper personal protective gear is available.”

Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke with the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, about the international effort to control the deadly virus, and promised more help from Canada.

A summary of their conversation, released by Harper’s office, said Ban “expressed his appreciation for Canada’s contributions to date.”

“Prime Minister Harper indicated that Canada would commit additional support to the international effort in the coming days.”

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to give any further details about the type of support it will offer.

So far, the government has committed $35 million to the World Health Organization, the UN and humanitarian aid groups working the effected region.

It has also donated up to $2.5 million worth of personal protective equipment.

As well, the Public Health Agency of Canada has sent two mobile labs to Sierra Leone. One of the lab teams is working with Medecins Sans Frontieres to provide rapid diagnosis; the other is helping to improve infection prevention and control procedures.

Canada has also offered to donate a Canadian-developed experimental vaccine, currently undergoing clinical trials, to the WHO.

New Democrats asked the federal government Wednesday to be more transparent about the steps being taken to prevent an Ebola outbreak in Canada and to produce the vaccine.

NDP health critic Libby Davies wrote Ambrose, arguing that Canadians need to be kept well informed in order to maintain confidence in the Public Health Agency’s ability to handle the crisis.

In her letter, Davies asks Ambrose to answer some specific questions, such as who is responsible for ensuring quarantine and treatment protocols in hospitals and who is responsible for ensuring health workers have the appropriate equipment.

She also wants to know what precautions are being taken to protect Canadians working in the worst-affected areas of West Africa.

Davies is also seeking more information about the experimental vaccine. She wants to know what percentage of the existing supply of the vaccine is being used in the trials, how much will remain for emergency use in Canada, whether production has been increased and when more of the vaccine will be available.

Last week, Liberal health critic Hedy Fry proposed that the House of Commons health committee hold an emergency, four-day meeting to be briefed by Ambrose, the chief public health officer and other experts on the same sort of questions. The committee has made no decision as yet.

“I want to remind Canadians there are no direct flights into Canada from the affected countries in Africa. All international points of entry into Canada are routinely monitored 24/7,” Ambrose said in her statement.

“All travellers identified as having arrived in Canada from an affected West African country will now be referred to a Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine officer for a mandatory health assessment. Quarantine officers have the necessary training and equipment to conduct a health assessment, including checking for fever, and determine whether additional public health measures are required.”

Just Posted

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read