Drills are a precautionary measure to ensure teams are ready and able to respond quickly
OTTAWA, Oct. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government of Canada has begun to exercise its Ebola Rapid Response Teams to ensure Canada is ready to respond in the event of a first case of Ebola in Canada.
Today the Public Health Agency of Canada and Nova Scotia's Department of Health and Wellness are conducting a joint exercise. For this drill, one of the Ebola Rapid Response Teams from Ottawa deployed to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The team will engage with provincial and local public health officials – who are the lead on any response - to practice supporting them in the event of a case of Ebola.
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. These planes are loaded with key equipment and ready to take off at a moment's notice.
Today's exercise follows a smaller one on Friday, October 17th in Ottawa, which tested the teams' ability to quickly assemble with the proper gear and equip one of the dedicated aircraft.
If at any point Canada was to confirm a first case of Ebola, one of five available teams would be deployed to work with the provincial/territorial and local health authorities to provide surge capacity, additional resources and complementary expertise to prevent any further spread of the disease.
Containing the spread of an infectious disease like Ebola requires collaboration across all levels of government and the health sector. These exercises are designed to ensure that the teams are able to respond rapidly and collaborate effectively with provincial, territorial and local health authorities.
The Public Health Agency of Canada continues to advise that the risk to Canadians remains low.
- Video footage from the October 17th drill
- There are five rapid response teams, each consisting of seven subject matter experts.
- The teams are comprised of a team lead, a field epidemiologist, an infection control expert, a biosafety expert, a laboratory expert, a communications expert, and a logistics expert.
- The teams will work with local health officials to assist in containing the spread of the disease including ensuring that all the necessary containment protocols are followed, contact tracing, laboratory expertise, proper use and removal of personal protective equipment, and providing any supplies from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile that are required, such as masks, gloves and face shields.
- Vials of Canada's experimental Ebola vaccine would be sent independently to the affected hospital as an added precaution.
- To date, Canada has committed $65 million in support of humanitarian and security interventions to address the spread of the Ebola virus in the West Africa region.
- There are no direct flights from the affected countries to Canada. Anyone travelling to Canada who has visited the affected countries is required to have a mandatory health assessment conducted by a Public Health Agency of Canada Quarantine Officer.
"Drills, dry runs, and practicing are important to ensuring that our teams are able to respond without hesitation in the event of a case of Ebola. It is imperative that our frontline healthcare workers have the guidance and information they need to deal with Ebola. The purpose of the Ebola Rapid Response Team is to assist those healthcare workers with containing the spread of the virus by providing expert public health guidance and support. We will continue to work with the Provinces and Territories to protect Canadians and ensure we are prepared."
Honourable Rona Ambrose,
Minister of Health
"Our experience in dealing with public health issues, including SARS, H1N1 and H5N1, has strengthened Canada's preparedness for public health risks or outbreaks. Nevertheless, we are and will continue to actively pursue all options to enhance domestic readiness and leave us on the best possible footing in the unlikely event of a first case of Ebola in Canada."
Dr. Gregory Taylor
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
"While the risk of an Ebola case in Nova Scotia remains low, we have been working with partners across our health system and across the country to ensure we are prepared for this or any other infectious disease. We are pleased to help the Public Health Agency of Canada with this test of their rapid response team as part of our ongoing collaborative preparedness efforts, and we're also continuing to practice and refine our own provincial plans."
Dr. Rob Strang
Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health
SOURCE: Public Health Agency of Canada
For further information: 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