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Ebola risk very low in New Brunswick: public health – New Brunswick

SAINT JOHN, N.B. – A health scare over the weekend in Saint John has heightened concerns over the spread of the Ebola virus.

The New Brunswick Department of Health maintains the risk of Ebola spreading in Canada is very low. But when an ill woman who had recently traveled to Africa was discovered in her Saint John hotel room unconscious, authorities did not waste any time moving in and placing the hotel under lockdown.

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Police, ambulance and fire crews remained at the Hilton Saint John most of Sunday — preventing guests from entering or leaving the building.

Dr. Scott Giffin, the N.B. Medical Officer of Health, later confirmed the woman had traveled from Cameroon and officials were concerned it was a possible case of Ebola. There is currently a deadly outbreak of the disease in Western Africa and more than 2,000 people have died.

Vacationers Jerry and Pat Heliger were free to come and go from the hotel Monday but the Nebraska couple was locked inside during Sunday’s Ebola scare.

“I don’t there is a reason at this point to be concerned,” Pat said. “Do I think could it become a worldwide epidemic, yes.”

It was hotel manager Allison Fraser’s first time having to deal with such a serious health scare in Canada. She’s originally from South Africa – where hotel health quarantines are much more common.

“I really wasn’t that freaked out about it, I just deferred everything to the authorities in the hopes that they know what they are doing,” she told Global News Monday.

The lockdown was lifted after health officials determined that Ebola was not a factor. A false alarm, but a sign that health officials in New Brunswick are taking the spread of the Ebola virus very seriously.

But Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, insists the risk in Canada is low.

“We do have a special task force especially for Ebola that has met and discussed if there is any unique features that we need to prepare in a different way,” she said. “But for the most part we have standard protocol and procedures we follow for all infectious diseases.”

Sunday was not the first Ebola health scare in Canada. At least three people have been quarantined until it was confirmed they did not have the disease.

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