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Archived - Canada remains committed to domestic preparedness and global fight against Ebola

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Canada deploys multi-disciplinary team to tackle Ebola in Guinea and Ebola Rapid Response Team participates in Nova Scotia exercise

March 4, 2015 - Halifax, NS - Public Health Agency of Canada

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, and Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor, today announced Canada’s ongoing commitment to domestic Ebola preparedness and that the Government of Canada has shifted its support in deployment to deploy a team of specialists from the Public Health Agency of Canada to build lasting public health capacity to Guinea to support the global Ebola response.

Domestic Preparedness

Canada’s Ebola virus disease Rapid Response Team (RRT), headed by the Associate Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Howard Njoo, met today with Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, and other health officials to practise the province’s Ebola protocols and guidelines in an exercise.

This meeting is a follow-up to a previous exercise that Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness jointly conducted last October with the RRT, and the latest in a series of joint exercises involving the RRT and provincial and territorial health officials across Canada. Today’s exercise involves practicing real-time responses with people acting as patients as well as table-top scenarios to allow Nova Scotia health officials to test the province's protocols and guidelines for responding in the event of an Ebola case in the province.

Provincial and territorial health authorities, healthcare organizations, and associations across Canada have undertaken extensive planning and preparation activities since the Ebola outbreak began in Africa. However, containing the spread of an infectious disease like Ebola requires collaboration across all levels of government and the health sector. Given that operational needs in each provincial and territorial jurisdiction may differ, planning exercises are an important component to ensuring mutual preparedness.

The Government of Canada’s RRTs are comprised of Public Health Agency experts who are ready to deploy upon request and specifically equipped to provide surge capacity, additional resources and complementary expertise to provincial/territorial and local health authorities if a case of Ebola occurs in Canada.

A New Contribution to the Global Fight Against Ebola

A small team of five French-speaking emergency management, epidemiology and border health specialists from the Public Health Agency of Canada has been mobilized under the World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network to collaborate with the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team currently in Guinea. Additional employees may also be deployed at a later date, depending on evolving needs on the ground.

As the nature of the outbreak changes, the region requires different kinds of support and Canada has the expertise to address these changing needs.

The team will deploy for six to eight weeks. Before deploying overseas, the team spent time in Atlanta, Georgia to receive training with CDC personnel. The team will travel to Guinea. Once in Guinea, the team will provide French-speaking emergency management, epidemiological and exit screening expertise.

The Government of Canada remains committed to aiding in the response to this outbreak, both for humanitarian reasons and to protect global public health.

Quick Facts

  • The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness has previously conducted exercises with 811 health information services and 911 emergency services. District health authorities and Emergency Health Services are performing exercises with staff who would likely be involved in responding to an Ebola case.
  • Transport Canada has designated four aircraft, two planes centrally located in Winnipeg and two in Ottawa, with the capability of quickly moving the rapid response teams and personal protective equipment anywhere in Canada.
  • 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 over $2.6 million worth of personal protective equipment.
  • The Government of Canada launched the “Join the Fight Against Ebola” campaign, which promotes the recruitment of Canadian healthcare workers through the Canadian Red Cross.
  • Canadian Armed Forces healthcare and support staff are in Sierra Leone providing patient care at an Ebola treatment facility.
  • The Agency has been providing rapid diagnostic laboratory support in Sierra Leone since June 2014 with rotating teams of scientists. Each mobile laboratory team’s rotation in the field typically lasts four weeks.
  • There has never been a case of Ebola in Canada.  The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person. It’s spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, not through casual contact.
  • The Government of Canada has a number of systems in place in Canada to identify and prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases like Ebola, including continually monitoring and tracking infectious diseases across Canada and administering the Quarantine Act at all points of entry into Canada, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
  • Any Canadians travelling abroad are encouraged to consult the Travel Health Notices on the Ebola outbreak.

Quotes

“Despite the fewer number of new cases of Ebola, the world cannot afford to let its guard down and we must remain vigilant.  Canada is proud to deploy this team of multi-disciplinary specialists to help bring an end to the outbreak in West Africa and to contribute our considerable expertise where it is needed most.”

Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health

“The Agency has an important and unique role to play in the global response, providing leading expertise and capabilities that can address the evolving needs of Ebola affected countries. The shift in Canada’s support to focus on public health, border health and emergency management expertise are but another stream of meaningful support that we can contribute as part of the global response.”

Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“You can never be too ready when preparing to respond to an infectious disease such as Ebola. Again, Nova Scotia has demonstrated its readiness and ability to protect the health of its citizens in the event of a first case, as we continue our work with provincial and territorial health partners to further refine our domestic planning and coordination efforts.”

Dr. Howard Njoo
Associate Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada

“Although the risk of Ebola in Nova Scotia remains low, our system’s readiness is a priority. Today’s exercise is designed to practice using our plan for responding to Ebola or other similar infectious diseases. The more we practice, the more we improve and increase confidence in our health system’s readiness to respond.”

Dr. Robert Strang
Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health

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Contacts

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

Tony Kiritsis
Media Relations
Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness
(902) 424-0585


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