A patient back from Nigeria who showed symptoms of fever and flu - possible signs of Ebola -was put in isolation in a Toronto-area hospital, Canadian health officials said.
This comes after Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan declared a national state of emergency on Friday over the Ebola outbreak and approved US$11.7 million of emergency funds to contain it.
The unnamed male patient was being treated at the William Osler Health System hospital in the Toronto suburb of Brampton.
"As a precautionary measure, Osler put in heightened infection control measures in the emergency department including isolating the patient," the hospital said in a statement, adding that hospital doctors were working closely with public health officials to confirm a diagnosis.
In addition to quarantining the patient, the hospital said it enacted other strict precautionary measures.
"To date, there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Ontario and the risk to Ontarians remains very low," said Graham Pollett, the province's interim chief medical officer of health.
He cautioned that initial Ebola symptoms were similar to many more common diseases, adding that health care providers had been advised to be on heightened alert for Ebola cases.
Watch: What is the Ebola virus
Another senior Ontario health official, Eric Hoskins, said that with the "experience and lessons learned from the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic, our hospitals have sophisticated infection control systems and procedures ... and are fully equipped to deal with any potential cases of Ebola".
SYMPTOMS OF EBOLA:
- Sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat.
- Followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, impaired kidney and liver functions.
- Internal and external bleeding. Low white blood cell and platelet counts.
- The time between infection and the showing of symptoms is two to 21 days.
Nigeria declared a national emergency several hours after the World Health Organisation called the epidemic a global health crisis. But spokesmen for two key aid groups criticised international response, saying WHO is at least partly to blame
WHO leaders "need to do a reality check and step up", Koen Henckaerts, a health expert at the European Commission's humanitarian aid division, said in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. "There is a lack of coordination among all the different partners."
Part of the problem is weak leadership by health ministries in the affected countries, which have never faced the disease and need help with hands-on management, Henckaerts said, calling for more WHO involvement beyond technical advice.
Medecins Sans Frontieres, with almost 700 workers in the affected region, was also critical, saying that it has been repeating for weeks that "a massive medical, epidemiological and public health response is desperately needed to save lives and reverse the course of the epidemic".
Lives were being lost, the doctors' group said, because the response was too slow.
The outbreak has so far killed 961 people in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, with 68 new cases reported over two days, the WHO said on Friday.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg