The province is working on public health and infection control measures and procedures to prevent the spread of infection, protect health care workers, and provide the best care possible for patients, say Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie and Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison.
“We want to provide health professionals and frontline health care workers with the information, guidance, personal protective equipment, training and support they need in the unlikely event that someone in our province tests positive for the Ebola virus,” said Minister Currie. “We have good infection control procedures in place and are collaborating with our regional counterparts to ensure an immediate response that is appropriate and effective.”
“Most health care workers in PEI will not have any contact with any suspected Ebola patient, but it is important to be aware of protocols in place in the event of a suspected case,” said Dr. Morrison. “We know that training is critical to ensure proper personal protective gear and safety protocols are in place. We are working to ensure all frontline health care workers feel prepared and properly trained to respond.”
The Chief Public Health Office offers the following questions and answers to help Islanders better understand the issue.
The following Q&A should answer some questions Islanders may have.
What is Ebola?
Ebola virus disease is a severe viral illness that begins with a sudden fever, often with extreme tiredness and body aches and may be followed by a headache, sore throat, nausea and vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases it can lead to internal bleeding and organ failure.
Is Ebola a new disease?
No. Ebola virus outbreaks have occurred sporadically in sub-Saharan Africa since the disease was identified in 1976.
How is Ebola spread?
The Ebola virus does not spread easily from person to person. It is spread through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes or nose and mouth) with infected bodily fluids such as blood, stool, vomit and urine. It is not spread through casual contact and you cannot get Ebola from someone who does not have symptoms.
Does anyone in Canada have Ebola?
No. There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Canada.
Are there travel restrictions in place?
Before travel to high risk areas, Islanders are encouraged to consult the Travel Health Notices on the Ebola outbreak. Travel health notices
Should I be concerned about traveling on an airplane?
You cannot get Ebola through casual contact or by sitting beside someone who is not sick. People are being screened for symptoms as they leave the affected country and as they enter Canada.
I understand Canada Border Services is now screening everyone returning to Canada from an affected area. What does that mean for PEI?
The Chief Public Health Office will now be informed of anyone coming from an affected country and will be closely monitoring people for symptoms for 21 days after their last contact with the affected area. If someone develops symptoms they will be transported to hospitals in Halifax where the proper testing and treatment can occur.
What can I do to protect myself and my family?
There are no special measures that the general public needs to do. The Chief Public Health Office will update Islanders regularly if this changes.
As always it is important to prevent illness for yourself and your family. It is cold and flu season on PEI and to prevent illness you can:
- Wash hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Get the flu shot to protect yourself against influenza.
- Stay home from work or school when you are ill.
What should I do if I think I have Ebola?
If you have traveled to one of the affected countries in West Africa which include Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, or to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and have symptoms consistent with Ebola, call 811 where you will be screened and further direction will be given.
“I commend our Chief Public Health Office, along with Health PEI, physicians, nurse practitioners, 811, Island EMS, and other stakeholders who are working hard to ensure that Islanders in general, and health care workers in particular, are protected,” said Minister Currie. “I am confident that governments at all levels are working together and are well prepared to respond should a case of Ebola be confirmed in Canada.”
Media Contact: Connie McNeill