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Ebola

PHSA is taking steps to ensure our staff and facilities are ready to care for an Ebola patient in the unlikely event that a case is confirmed.
PHSA readiness
Our hospitals, cancer centres, paramedics and clinics have been given step-by-step procedures for assessing potential Ebola virus and identifying patients with symptoms and a history of travel to the Ebola-affected region.

Our Infection Control group has been focused on Ebola preparedness for some time and has addressed a number of key areas, including:

  • Triage and assessment
  • Diagnosis and treatment
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Lab processes
  • Workplace health and safety requirements
  • Personal protective equipment 
  • Education and training needs and more
The safety of staff and patients in dealing with a virus like this is our highest priority. We have learned valuable lessons from our experiences with SARS and H1N1 and are using these learnings to shape how we respond to other infectious diseases, like Ebola.

This means that we are providing staff across PHSA with information and training in assessing possible Ebola cases. 

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Canada and the risk to Canadians remains very low.  We are watching and learning from what is happening around the world – refining our protocols and procedures to ensure our staff and the people we serve are as safe as possible for the unlikely event that an Ebola case arrives in British Columbia.  
Ebola FAQs
Ebola activity has raised many questions about the disease and how ready BC health authorities are in the event of an outbreak.

There has never been a case of Ebola in Canada and the risk remains very low.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.

 

At the federal level, the Public Health Agency of Canada is taking precautions to prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases, such as Ebola, in Canada through administration of the Quarantine Act. The Quarantine Act is administered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week at all points of entry into Canada.


In the event there is a case of a person at higher risk of having Ebola virus disease in BC, there are protocols in place to ensure that medical health officers, the provincial laboratory and the BC Centre for Disease Control are informed.


If a case were ever confirmed in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Ministry of Health, the BC Centre for Disease Control and local health authorities would alert British Columbians and Canadians and put any necessary measures in place to protect the public.

 

Infection control systems and processes in Canadian hospitals are supported by a series of infection control guidelines used across the country. British Columbia's emergency rooms and hospitals are ready to identify, isolate and treat any suspected Ebola case.


Health authorities have response plans in place if a person at higher risk of having Ebola is identified. Those plans are being refined and updated based on the latest information and reviews from Europe and the United States.


The Ministry of Health has set up an Ebola preparedness task force, co-chaired by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall and Associate Deputy Minister Lynn Stevenson, which will coordinate information and best practices across the regional health authorities. The task force is meeting regularly and will address, as a priority, equipment needs, training needs and preparedness, as well as update clinical information on how best to provide treatment and follow up in the unlikely event that a person is diagnosed with Ebola.

 

Hospitals, cancer centres, paramedics and clinics throughout the province have been given advice and procedures for assessing potential Ebola cases.


Health authority infection control offices have been focused on Ebola preparedness for some time and have addressed a number of key areas, including triage and assessment, diagnosis and treatment, infection prevention and control, lab processes, workplace health and safety requirements, personal protective equipment (PPE), education and training needs, etc.


The province has asked health authorities to establish Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs) to provide direction and resources to deal with Ebola if a case is identified.

 

The task force has designated two provincial sites to manage confirmed and probable cases*

  • Surrey Memorial Hospital for adults 
  • BC Children’s Hospital for children 

These sites will be the focus of training for staff on the protocols for health care workers who deal with probable or confirmed cases. Emergency room and front line staff at all other health care facilities are also being trained to receive, isolate and triage any symptomatic individual of interest with risk of exposure to Ebola.


*A confirmed EVD case is a person with laboratory confirmation of EVD infection. A probable EVD case is a person with symptoms compatible with EVD, with at least one high-risk exposure in the 21 days before symptom onset (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014).

 

We know that some staff and physicians working on the frontlines have concerns about the potential arrival of the Ebola virus. BC health officials are taking this situation very seriously and actions are underway to ensure they have the equipment and training they need to protect themselves while providing care.


The task force is reviewing the training in the health authorities to ensure it is being applied consistently across the province and based on the current national guidelines. As well, the task force is asking health authorities to prioritize training for health care workers who would be engaged with a patient.


Health authority Infection Prevention & Control teams will be providing on-site training sessions related to the use of personal protective equipment, with specific focus on donning and doffing procedures. Initially, this training will be targeted to staff in the emergency departments and ICUs.

 

It is important for front-line clinicians to be aware of the type of personal protective equipment necessary to handle a suspect or confirmed Ebola patient. We are continuing to talk with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on their protocols and the most appropriate measures to protect health care workers and the public. Regional health authorities are working to ensure they have the needed equipment and staff who are trained and comfortable in its use. 

 

 



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