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Archived - Meeting of the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health on Ebola

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October 14, 2014

Earlier today, I attended a meeting of the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health to discuss the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

First, I want to state that the risk to Canadians remains very low.  The Ebola virus itself does not spread easily from person to person; it is not like the flu. Ebola is spread by touching the body fluids (for example blood, saliva, secretions) of a person sick with the disease or someone who has died from it.

The Council has been meeting on a weekly basis for some time to share information and coordinate activities, specifically related to Ebola.

Let me remind Canadians that our hospitals have strong infection control systems and procedures in place designed to limit the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide the best care possible for the patient.  Canada has had a number of experiences dealing with public health diseases like SARS, H1N1 and H5N1 to better equip us to respond to public health risks or outbreaks.  To support these systems, the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided a series of infection control guidelines, including Ebola-specific guidance, to the provincial and territorial health authorities.

At today's meeting, we discussed ways to implement our guidance for how to properly use personal protective equipment in hospitals, and how we further strengthen them, in the unlikely event an Ebola case arrives in Canada.

Following a productive discussion, we agreed that although we are prepared, we must continue to be vigilant and improve our systems and preparedness.

Collectively, we will continue to look for ways to make our ability to detect and respond to Ebola even stronger.

Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

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