Quebec’s Director of Public Health Protection Horacio Arruda took to the airwaves Wednesday to assure Quebecers that the risk of the Ebola virus arriving in the province is "very small."
An outbreak of the deadly illness in West Africa, which experts say is of an unprecedented magnitude, is raising concerns internationally about the possibility of the Ebola virus spreading beyond the region.
As of July 23, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa reached 1,201, with 672 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been hardest hit by the outbreak.
To date, there has never been a case of Ebola reported in Canada.
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The fast-acting Ebola virus, which first appeared in 1976, produces a violent hemorrhagic fever that leads to internal and external bleeding. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, and tissues of infected people or animals.
Arruda said existing infectious disease protocols in Quebec mean the province’s health care system is well-positioned to deal with cases if they do arise.
“Person-to-person transmissions would never reach the proportions that they have in Africa,” he said.
According to Arruda, the primary risk of Ebola coming to Quebec is through health-care workers returning from West Africa.
They are being asked to self-monitor themselves for 21 days for possible symptoms and report themselves for quarantine if necessary.
Doctors are also aware of the signs and have instructions to ask patients questions like where they’ve travelled recently if they are presenting symptoms similar to the disease.
“The way we handle things here means we cut the chain of transmission off early on,” Arruda said.