VANCOUVER - B.C.'s health minister has assured the public that the province is prepared to deal with a case of Ebola after a second U.S. health worker tested positive for the virus.
Terry Lake said Wednesday the risk in B.C. is low, but provincial health authorities have in place infection control systems and procedures that were developed during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and H1N1 outbreak in 2009.
Lake said those standards are the same used by Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Border, in West Africa and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., which have been dealing with cases of the Ebola virus.
He also said he's tasked the province's health officer to confirm that hospitals are equipped to handle Ebola cases and that protocols are in place to protect health-care staff.
"I've asked Dr. Perry Kendall ... to make sure that we put a team together to review all the protocols in place, make sure nurses and other ally health professionals have the necessary training and equipment that is necessary to deal with any suspected case of Ebola," he said in an interview.
Lake also said he's eager to learn lessons from Dallas, where two health workers contracted Ebola after helping care for a patient who died from the virus.
"Until we understand why those health-care workers were infected, it's hard to know how to prevent it or what lessons can be learned from that," he said.
Lake's statement comes after the B.C. Nurses' Union said its members aren't ready to respond to Ebola cases because they haven't been trained to protect themselves from getting the virus or to care for such patients.
Kendall has said his first priority is to make sure health-care workers familiarize themselves with personal protective equipment. (CHNL, The Canadian Press)