Canada pulling team from Sierra Leone over Ebola fears
TORONTO – Canada is in the process of evacuating its three-member mobile laboratory team from Sierra Leone over concerns for the safety of the scientists as the World Health Organization investigates how an African doctor who worked at the same field unit as the Canadians contracted Ebola.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said late Tuesday that the team is being recalled to Canada after people at the hotel complex where they were staying were diagnosed with Ebola. The agency said the Canadians do not appear to be sick but will be in voluntary isolation both on their trip home and after they return to the country.
The WHO’s director of communications, Christy Feig, said the organization is investigating how the doctor, a Senegalese epidemiologist, became infected with the virus. The unit where he and the Canadians were working did not treat patients; it was a support operation for a nearby treatment centre operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres.
“It could have been a straightforward thing; he was exposed in an accident with an infected patient, it could have been that simple,” Feig said Wednesday in an interview from Liberia.
“But it also is a little unusual so we want to give it a close look so we can make sure there’s not something about the set up there that’s putting more people at risk.”
The Senegalese doctor has been evacuated to Hamburg, Germany for care. He is the first person working on an Ebola outbreak through the WHO’s Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network to have contracted the disease.