N.B. doctor facing emergency measures charge after cluster of COVID-19 cases
Dr. Jean Robert Ngola was the health-care worker blamed for causing a COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton region after returning to New Brunswick from Quebec and not self-isolating in May. (Submitted: Joel Etienne)
CAMPBELLTON, N.B. -- A doctor who is suspected of triggering a COVID-19 outbreak in northern New Brunswick is facing a charge of violating the province's Emergency Measures Act.
Dr. Jean Robert Ngola has been issued a notice to attend Campbellton provincial court on Oct. 26 for failing to comply with a direction or requirement of the act.
His lawyer, Joel Etienne, confirmed the news today.
Ngola has said he travelled from Campbellton, N.B., to Quebec in May to pick up his four-year-old daughter because the girl's mother had to attend a funeral in Africa.
He admitted that upon his return from the overnight trip he did not self-isolate for 14 days, but he says that was consistent with practices of his colleagues and superiors, and he believes he may have gotten the virus from a patient or another health professional.
At a news conference in late May, Premier Blaine Higgs did not name Ngola but referred to an "irresponsible"' health worker and said the matter had been referred to the RCMP.
The cluster of cases in the Campbellton area involved about 40 people who tested positive for COVID-19, leading to two deaths.
Etienne says Ngola was not "patient zero" and the premier needs to apologize.
The lawyer says the potential charge is a regulatory matter and not a criminal charge.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2020.