November 27th, 2020

Security, health experts to lead review of pandemic warning system


By The Canadian Press on November 18, 2020.

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday November 17, 2020 in Ottawa. Hajdu is tapping a former national security adviser to lead a probe into whether Canada's pandemic warning system fell down just before COVID-19 reared up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Health Minister Patty Hajdu is tapping a former national security adviser to lead a probe into whether Canada’s pandemic warning system fell down just before COVID-19 reared up.

Margaret Bloodworth will chair a three-member review panel studying what went wrong with the Global Public Health Intelligence Network.

She will be joined by former deputy public health officer Dr. Paul Gully, and Mylaine Breton, Canada Research Chair in Clinical Governance on Primary Health Care at Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec.

The network, known commonly as GPHIN, was created more than two decades ago and helped flag both the SARS pandemic in 2003, and H1N1 in 2009, before either really exploded.

But its role in gathering intelligence and reporting on international outbreaks of disease shifted in 2019 when the Public Health Agency of Canada began focusing more on domestic matters.

Some experts have said that shift left Canada without early intelligence on the novel coronavirus as it emerged in China last fall and Hajdu intends review to explore whether the system failed and how it could better prepare Canada for future pandemics.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

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