Speech Article from  Public Health Agency of Canada

Archived - Media Availability with Minister of Health Rona Ambrose on Ebola

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Good afternoon and thank you for being here today for an update on the situation with Ebola in West Africa. Earlier today, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued an updated travel advisory for the affected regions. We continue to advise Canadians against all nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

This recommendation by the Department of Foreign Affairs is made to protect Canadian travellers and make it easier for health officials in the affected regions to dedicate their resources towards controlling the outbreak.

Today, we are asking Canadians living in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to consider leaving by commercial means while they are still available.

This decision has been made and taken with an abundance of caution as there is no Government of Canada office in Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia. Therefore, our ability to provide consular assistance is extremely limited. Access to medical services may also be scarce in the affected region. Should any Canadian require medical evacuation from the Ebola-affected regions, there are limited services available and the Government of Canada cannot guarantee access to these services in another country.

I want to reassure Canadians that our Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Taylor and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to advise that the risk to Canadians here at home is very low.

The travel advisory today is meant to further protect Canadians living in the affected region. Here at home, Canada is very well prepared, with a number of systems in place to identify and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases like Ebola.

All points of entry into Canada are routinely monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is done through the provisions of our Quarantine Act. There are no direct flights into Canada from the affected countries in Africa. At the border, Canada Border Service Agency screens all people coming from African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

As an additional precaution, the Government of Canada has further strengthened border measures to help prevent the unlikely importation of Ebola into the country. Effective immediately, 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. Any travellers who feel ill or who were in contact with an ill individual will then be assessed by a Public Health Agency of Canada quarantine officer.

Effective immediately, all travellers identified as having arrived in Canada from an affected African country will be referred to a quarantine officer for mandatory health tests.

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.

CBSA agents are asking travellers from these regions direct questions, and they’re being referred to a quarantine officer if needed.

Through our National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, we are extremely well connected with provincial labs across the country to ensure Canada is ready to detect and respond quickly if necessary at home. This means that in the chance there are suspected cases, we can quickly test and take appropriate action.

As I said last week, in Canada we are extremely fortunate that we have some of the best hospitals in the world. This includes the care for infectious diseases as well as strong infectious control systems in place to protect against the spread of disease. If there was ever a confirmed case of Ebola, the Public Health Agency of Canada would immediately advise the public and ensure all appropriate actions are taken and precautions are taken to protect Canadians.

I’m happy to take your questions now.

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Hon. Rona Ambrose Public Health Agency of Canada Health and Safety

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