NEWS

Ebola crisis needs international aid, health minister says

10/21/2014 01:31 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST
CBC News is dedicating a special day of coverage to the Ebola crisis. On radio, television and online, we'll explore the facts behind Ebola and answer questions. Be part of the conversation Tuesday by using #ebolafacts on social media or by joining our live chat on CBCNews.ca starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins, a doctor who's fought infectious diseases as an aid worker in West Africa, said Tuesday he has no doubt this Ebola outbreak will be contained.

"The question is will it be stopped in the short term, the long term or the medium term," he said Tuesday during an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "Where it actually ends, and when it ends, is dependent on the level of international response."

To that end, Ontario this week kicked in $3 million to fight the disease in West Africa, where it has killed more than 4,500 people and will surely kill more as the total number of confirmed, possible and suspected cases approaches 10,000.

"We were late in the game in getting involved from the perspective of the international community," said Hoskins. "We need to be prepared here, but we need to be part of the solution there."

Ontario has also taken steps to deal with any Ebola cases that may crop up at home. So far there have been no confirmed Ebola cases in Canada, but Hoskins has designated 10 Ontario hospitals as Ebola treatment centres. He's also called for new protocols for dealing with confirmed cases, including a mandate that two nurses be assigned to each Ebola patient.

Ontario will also have the ability to test for Ebola locally, Hoskins said.

"We should all be concerned, and vigilant and prepared," he said.

Hoskins said he's seen first-hand the state of health care in West Africa prior to this outbreak and said Canada is well-equipped to contain the disease.  

Hoskins said the risk of the disease spreading in Ontario, or anywhere in Canada, is "very, very low."

"You can't event compare our health-care systems, we've learned a lot with SARS," he said.

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