Canada is looking at doubling its financial commitment to the fight against Ebola, an increase that would amount to another $30-million, sources say.
Ottawa has already contributed $35-million to WHO, the UN and humanitarian groups to battle against the deadly virus and the additional amount would be funneled through aid agencies.
Sources say a final decision has yet to be made.
The move comes after Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose urged the provinces and territories to conduct test runs of how they'd respond to the Ebola virus to help protect front-line health workers from being infected should the deadly disease reach Canada.
The Public Health Agency of Canada is also working with provincial medical officers on ways to strengthen protocols for detecting and responding to a case of Ebola, it announced.
These moves follow revelations that a second Texas nurse tested positive for the virus after treating the first patient in the United States to be diagnosed with the deadly disease – and that she travelled by jetliner a day before reporting symptoms.
Ms. Ambrose convened a teleconference with provincial health ministers to discuss Ebola preparedness and ensure front-line health-care workers are receiving all necessary training. She also separately spoke with the heads of major nurses' associations to assure them Ottawa would push for nurses to be kept abreast of any developments.
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday that his administration would provide "much more aggressive" monitoring of Ebola cases in the United States and warned that in an age of frequent travel the disease could spread globally if the world doesn't respond to the "raging epidemic in West Africa."
In his most urgent comments on the spread of the disease, Mr. Obama also sought to ease growing anxiety in the U.S. He said he had directed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to step up its response to new cases.
"We want a rapid response team, a SWAT team essentially, from the CDC to be on the ground as quickly as possible, hopefully within 24 hours, so that they are taking the local hospital step by step though what needs to be done," he said.
Mr. Obama cancelled travel to a fundraiser and campaign rally Wednesday to convene a meeting of cabinet involved in the Ebola response both in the U.S. and in the West African region where the disease has been spreading at alarming rates.
The case of the second infected nurse raised fresh questions about handling of the case of Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in Dallas of Ebola, by both his hospital caregivers and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Provinces are responsible for health care, but Ms. Ambrose said Ottawa is prepared to help if Ebola is detected.
"In the event of an Ebola case in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada is ready to respond with a team of public-health experts and epidemiologists experienced in infectious disease outbreak management to support the investigation and contact tracing, provide laboratory expertise to quickly confirm diagnosis, and any supplies that may be needed from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile System, such as masks, gloves and face shields," she said.
The Texas developments added a new North American element to an Ebola crisis in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Mr. Obama has been pressing the international community to step up its assistance in combatting the disease.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama spoke by phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The White House said Mr. Obama stressed that the world must provide the finances and personnel needed "to bend the curve of the epidemic."
At least 4,493 people have died in West Africa in the worst outbreak since Ebola was identified in 1976, but cases in the U.S. and Europe have been limited. The virus can cause fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, and spreads through contact with bodily fluids.
Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said Wednesday Ontario has guidelines and protocols for handling potential Ebola cases, but that he would be updating them further by the end of the week. He said he is gathering input from front-line health-care workers, including the heads of nursing associations.
"I want all health-care workers to know that I'm listening to them and that I take their concerns very seriously," he told a news conference at Queen's Park. "At a time like this, it's important to be continuously reviewing our readiness strategies."
Mr. Hoskins, himself a physician who worked on public-health issues in Africa for many years, said he is also watching what happened in Texas to see whether Ontario can draw any lessons on better protecting health workers.
"It is concerning what's happened in Dallas, there is no doubt," he said. "It's important that we learn the lessons of Dallas."
Ontario's chief medical officer, David Mowat, said the province has a robust system for stopping the spread of disease, built up since the SARS epidemic in 2003.
"It is unlikely we will have many cases of Ebola in Ontario. However, we must be prepared and we are," he said. "In the decade since SARS, we've strengthened our system, upgrading facilities, putting in place training for health personnel … additional personnel have been provided to public health agencies for infection control."
With reports from AP and Reuters