Dec. 1, 2008
MONCTON (CNB) - The laboratory at the Dr. Georges-L. Dumont Regional Hospital is to be the central testing and co-ordinating facility in New Brunswick in the event of an influenza pandemic or epidemics, Health Minister Michael Murphy announced today.
"New Brunswick must be prepared for pandemic influenza or outbreaks of other highly infectious diseases," Murphy said. "This lab, responsible to Regional Health Authority (RHA) A, will play a key role in dealing with significant outbreaks and protecting New Brunswickers from the spread of illness."
Murphy said the establishment of New Brunswick's own facility to conduct influenza tests is essential because the national lab in Winnipeg will be unable to perform the service for this province during a pandemic.
"I think that today's announcement is very positive for the improvement of health-care delivery to all New Brunswickers," said Aldéa Landry, chair of RHA A. "This designation will allow the lab's medical team to develop its services further."
The Department of Health is working with RHA A to develop a plan that will align New Brunswick with the national influenza pandemic laboratory guidelines.
An influenza pandemic may occur when the virus undergoes a radical change to form a new strain to which humans have little or no immunity. Typically, three to four pandemics occur each century. It is expected that an influenza pandemic would affect at least 35 per cent of the population in New Brunswick.
"In its new role, this lab will enable the health sector to implement the New Brunswick pandemic influenza plan more effectively, should the need arise," Murphy said. "This plan is being updated to ensure it will continue to be an effective safeguard for all New Brunswickers as we continue our journey to self-sufficiency by 2026."
The plan identifies the roles and responsibilities for the provincial health sector in preparing for and responding to an influenza pandemic. It is aligned with the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector, which outlines ways for the health sector throughout Canada to prepare for and respond to pandemic influenza.
More information about the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan for the Health Sector may be found at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cpip-pclcpi/index-eng.php.
MEDIA CONTACT: Meghan Cumby, communications, Department of Health, 506-457-3522.