The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canadian laboratory team evacuated from Ebola zone back in Canada

  • Print

TORONTO - Three Canadian scientists evacuated from Sierra Leone over Ebola concerns are back in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada said Friday night.

The three left earlier Friday on a chartered plane to make the trip home. A quarantine officer assessed them when their plane landed in an undisclosed Canadian location.

They were deemed healthy and allowed to travel to private residences where they will enter a period of isolation.

The Public Health Agency has not released the names of the team and won't say where they live, for privacy reasons. They are believed to be employees of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Their mission was cut short over concerns for their safety when three people working at or staying in their hotel complex tested positive for Ebola.

One of the people was a Senegalese epidemiologist who, like the Canadians, was in Sierra Leone working under the aegis of the World Health Organization's Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. The man was evacuated to Hamburg, Germany for care.

The WHO has temporarily shuttered the operation where he and the Canadians worked as it investigates how he contracted the disease.

The unit, which was based at Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone, provided contact tracing and social mobilization services for the area. The mobile laboratory the Canadians operated supported a nearby Ebola treatment centre run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also withdrew two people from the Kailahun operation in response to the same situation. One of the CDC employees, an epidemiologist, had worked in close proximity to the Senegalese epidemiologist.

The CDC described the exposure as low risk, saying the two worked together in an office-type space.

The CDC said its scientist was due to return to the U.S. anyway, so the agency decided to bring the individual home. A second CDC person was approaching the end of a mission as well, so both were flown back to the U.S. on a private jet.

The WHO has asked people who are contacts of confirmed cases not to fly on commercial flights while they are in the incubation period of the disease.

The Canadians will isolate themselves — even from their families — as they wait out a 21-day incubation period. Their health will be monitored during that time, the agency said.

If they develop symptoms during that period they will be transported to hospital for assessment.

The Public Health Agency has said it remains committed to the effort to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and will send another team to restart the lab operation at Kailahun after appropriate steps are taken to ensure a safe living environment for the scientists.

It was revealed Friday that the outbreak, which has been raging for months, had breached another border.

Senegal announced it had diagnosed a case in a man who had crossed into the country from neighbouring Guinea, where the outbreak is believed to have begun.

Most cases have occurred in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, though Nigeria is working to contain an outbreak that began when an infected man from Liberia travelled there for a conference.

The WHO says there have been more than 3,000 cases and 1,550 deaths. It projected this week that as many as 20,000 people may be infected before the outbreak can be brought under control.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets This Week: Quarter Season Analysis

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos


How much does the premier's apology mean to you?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google