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Archived - Government of Canada announces on-the-ground support for the Ebola outbreak response in Sierra Leone

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Another mobile laboratory is set up in Sierra Leone and Canadian Armed Forces personnel depart the United Kingdom for Sierra Leone

December 19, 2014
Ottawa, ON
Government of Canada

The Honourable Robert Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor, today announced that a mobile laboratory has been set up at a second site in Sierra Leone. In addition, following extensive training alongside their British military counterparts, approximately 40 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) healthcare and support staff will depart the United Kingdom (UK) on Saturday for Sierra Leone.  

Public Health Agency of Canada scientists have established a mobile laboratory to service a new Doctors Without Borders Ebola management centre in Magburaka, Sierra Leone. The establishment of the laboratory in Magburaka means that there are currently four Agency scientists in Sierra Leone operating two mobile laboratories. The laboratory will provide the same services, namely rapid laboratory diagnostic support, as the laboratory currently operating in Kailahun, Sierra Leone.

In addition to its work providing rapid laboratory diagnostic support, from October-November 2014, the Agency deployed a mobile laboratory to Sierra Leone to help Doctors Without Borders assess infection control measures in healthcare settings.

On Saturday, December 20th, as a part of Operation SIRONA, Canadian military doctors, physicians’ assistants, nurses, medics and support staff will begin an acclimatization period at the UK’s Kerry Town Treatment Unit (KTTU) in Sierra Leone. They will work alongside their British counterparts at the KTTU until the governance of the treatment facility can be transferred to non-governmental organizations working in Sierra Leone.

While in West Africa, stringent safety protocols designed to mitigate risk of becoming infected while providing care will be followed. CAF members will be provided with personal protective equipment to ensure that they can work as safely as possible.

Quick Facts

  • Canada is a leader in fighting Ebola and continues to contribute to the outbreak response in West Africa. The Government of Canada has committed more than $110 million, to support health, humanitarian, and security interventions both at home and abroad to address Ebola.
  • Canada has also offered in-kind support – such as mobile lab teams – and has donated 800 vials of Canada’s experimental Ebola vaccine and personal protective equipment.
  • The Government of Canada recently launched the “Join the Fight Against Ebola” campaign, which promotes the recruitment of Canadian healthcare workers through the Canadian Red Cross.
  • The Agency has been providing rapid diagnostic laboratory support in Kailahun, Sierra Leone since June 2014 with rotating teams of scientists.
  • Each mobile laboratory team’s rotation in the field typically lasts four weeks.
  • Each mobile lab includes an isolator, a microscope, various test kits, a unit for rapid virus detection, a generator, a laptop computer designed to withstand difficult conditions (humidity, dust, heat) and a satellite phone.
  • The CAF mission is called Operation SIRONA and, in augmenting the UK’s Operation GRITROCK, will primarily focus on medical care to local and international healthcare workers who are patients of the UK’s KTTU in Sierra Leone.
  • CAF personnel deploying to Sierra Leone are well prepared for their mission. Before deploying to West Africa (WA), CAF members completed comprehensive training at the state-of-the-art British Army Medical Services Training Centre in Strensall, UK, alongside their British military counterparts.
  • The command and support staff within Canada’s task force will deploy for up to six months. The 37 personnel deploying to Sierra Leone will join the three member theatre activation team currently on the ground, who will be returning home shortly. The Canadian military healthcare personnel will be rotated every two months during the deployment.


“Canada remains committed to supporting efforts to containing the spread of Ebola in West Africa. After comprehensive preparation and training for this important mission, Canadian Armed Forces healthcare professionals and support staff members head to Africa representing Canada’s tradition of helping people in the most vulnerable corners of the world.”
The Honourable Robert Nicholson, PC, QC
Minister of National Defence

“The additional deployment of Public Health Agency of Canada scientists further demonstrates Canada’s commitment to help stopping the spread of Ebola in West Africa. We are proud to support our international partners by continuing to provide critical support on the ground."
Honourable Rona Ambrose,
Minister of Health

"I commend our scientists for their perseverance and dedication to the Ebola outbreak response. In continuing to provide rapid laboratory diagnostic support, they are helping to ensure patients are isolated quickly, reducing the risk of transmission and saving lives.”  
Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

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Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
(613) 957-2983

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