Ebola outbreak: Nova Scotia maps out plan
Highest risk population in Nova Scotia is university students and faculty
As the Ebola outbreak in West Africa spreads, public health officials in Nova Scotia are watching carefully and preparing a plan in case an infected person arrives in this province.
The planning has been going on for several weeks, says Dr. Robert Strang, the province's medical officer of health.
"It's a remote risk anywhere in Canada, but the health system, we do need to be prepared,” he said.
The Department of Health and Wellness mailed out an alert to every university campus in Nova Scotia on Friday asking anyone who has been in an affected country in the last 21 days and is feeling ill to call the health hotline 811.
"The highest risk population in Nova Scotia is students and faculty at one of our universities who may have been in that part of the world, or students from there...one of our international students,” said Strang.
He says 811 would then alert public health and the office could order blood tests. It would bring a suspected patient to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre or the IWK from anywhere in the province.
Dr. Scott Halperin, the head of infectious diseases at the IWK, says transmitting the virus is difficult.
"Any secretions can contain the virus and what happens if you get that into a cut or a break in your skin or your mucosal membranes, the transmission can occur. So it requires fairly close contact,” he said.
Halifax Stanfield International Airport met with Health Canada last week to talk about quarantine space. Nothing is being done yet, but staff say the airport is ready.
Health officials say there's no reason to be concerned, but the health system needs to be prepared.