Ebola risk is low in Saskatchewan, but health system prepared just in case
Precautions in place, health officials say
Health officials in Saskatchewan say the risk of an outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus is very low in the province, but plans are set on how to handle cases if any emerge.
Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, told CBC News Thursday that the Ebola Virus, which has lead to 1,900 deaths in Africa, does not pose a threat to Saskatchewan.
He noted that international travellers arriving from infected areas are given information on symptoms to watch for.
"When you come back you should monitor or be aware of your health for at least twenty-one days after arrival back in Canada," Shahab said. "And that's only relevant if you've travelled from those five countries that are currently having an outbreak."
Shahab explained that anyone with symptoms, including a bad fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, should call a health care provider before visiting an emergency room or walk-in clinic.
He said specific training and information has been provided to providers, including emergency room people, EMTs and the health line.
"If they get a call from people complaining of fever, other symptoms, and there's a history of travel, they should specifically ask about those three West African countries, plus two other countries that are implicated to a lesser extent," Shahab said.
With that information, health care providers can follow appropriate protocols to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus.
For example, blood samples of the patient would be taken at designated hospital sites in Regina and Saskatoon and if Ebola is confirmed, the infected person would be cared for in isolation by doctors and nurses wearing proper protective gear.
"The way care is provided in Canada you require contact and droplet precautions, so basically you require a gown, gloves a face shield and a mask to provide care," Shahab said."
Officials at the University of Regina have also been giving members of the university community information about Ebola and relevant precautions.
They have sent out letters advising everyone to be prepared and educated on the issue.