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View Darren Fisher Profile
Lib. (NS)
Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
I want to thank my friend for the opportunity to speak about the Government of Canada's plan to respond to the novel coronavirus in Canada. As members know, there have been numerous confirmed cases in China and travel-related cases have been reported in other jurisdictions, including in Canada, as was said by my friend.
Last week, the director-general of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus to be a public health emergency of international concern. Canada is actively monitoring the outbreak, and has implemented public health measures very much in line with the World Health Organization's guidance and advice. There are currently four confirmed cases in Canada that are linked to travel in Wuhan, China, and none of the individuals remains in hospital.
Despite these confirmed cases, the risk to Canadians remains low. Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. We will continue to provide Canadians with regular updates. Canada's response to the outbreak to date has been a whole-of-government approach, including working very closely with provincial and territorial jurisdictions. Our health system has been mobilized to support a response to the cases of illness in Canada, and national guidance has been shared.
There has been tremendous progress over the past 16 years to strengthen Canada's public health system and how we prepare for infectious disease outbreaks. We have learned, not only from SARS but also from the H1N1 pandemic and more recently the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and we will learn as well from this outbreak.
Since SARS, we have created the Public Health Agency of Canada to provide clear federal leadership during a response such as this. We have established the position of chief public health officer as an authoritative voice to all Canadians during public health events. We have enhanced federal-provincial-territorial collaboration through a formal network of public health experts, the public health network council. We have strengthened coordination within the federal government, including through the creation of the government operations centre.
Significant effort has been expended in the past decade to refine planning, and establish clear protocols and processes, and our preparedness has enabled us to respond quickly and efficiently. Our health system is working exactly as it should. We have been able to detect cases in Canada, treat them appropriately and quickly share information across jurisdictions to limit the spread of this virus.
Some of the key measures Canada has implemented include enhanced screening at 10 airports that accept international flights. This is our first line of defence. As individuals return to Canada from China, information on screens tells individuals to self-identify to a border services agent if they are experiencing novel coronavirus symptoms.
In addition, a health screening question has been added to the electronic kiosks at these airports, asking travellers if they have been to Hubei province. Travellers are also provided information about what they should do if they subsequently experience any symptoms, with procedures established to refer travellers to local public health as required.
We have also updated our travel health notice to level three, to avoid all non-essential travel to China. We have implemented a risk communication approach. Our chief public health officer is providing exceptional leadership, and has been holding regular media availability and taking interviews to counter misinformation and discrimination.
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