The doctor at the centre of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton region was planning to leave his practice before the outbreak started, according to the head of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick.
Dr. Jean Robert Ngola had tendered his resignation to the Campbellton Regional Hospital, effective Aug. 1, said Dr. Ed Schollenberg, the registrar of the provincial licensing body for doctors.
“That was a week or two before this whole mess hit,” said Schollenberg, who was copied on a letter from the hospital, accepting Ngola’s resignation.
He said he believed it was on May 18. The first case in the COVID-19 cluster was publicly reported on May 21. Before then, it had been two weeks since the province had an active case.
There are now 13 people infected, including five elderly residents in an Alzheimer’s unit at a long-term care facility in Atholville and a personal support worker. Five people are in hospital, including one in intensive care.
Schollenberg doesn’t know what Ngola’s plans were after roughly seven years of practising in Campbellton. But a doctor who gives up their hospital privileges can no longer practise in the province, he said.
Nine days after giving his notice, Ngola, who is also known as Ngola Monzinga, was suspended by the Vitalité Health Network. The province has since asked the RCMP to investigate a trip he took to Quebec and his failure to self-isolate to determine whether charges are warranted.
Ngola, in his first media interview since the outbreak started, told Radio-Canada’s program La Matinale on Tuesday he’s not sure whether he picked up the coronavirus during the trip to Quebec or from a patient in his office.
He made an overnight return trip to Quebec to pick up his four-year-old daughter because her mother had to travel to Africa for her own father’s funeral, he said.