The doctor accused of being patient zero in the Campbellton COVID-19 outbreak has been notified he won’t face criminal charges, according to his lawyer.
Dr. Jean Robert Ngola is still seeking an apology from New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs and his lawyer, Joël Etienne, has now threatened legal action to get one.
Ngola travelled to Quebec the week of May 10 to retrieve his four-year-old daughter and didn’t self-isolate upon his return.
Higgs never publicly named Ngola, but blamed a cluster of cases in the Campbellton region on an “irresponsible” medical professional who travelled to Quebec for personal reasons, “was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick” and didn’t self-isolate.
Forty-one people became infected and two people died.
Etienne said his client was questioned by the RCMP to determine whether charges for negligence causing death or bodily harm should be laid.
But Etienne said he received confirmation a few days ago that no criminal charges will be laid.
Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP, said she is not aware if the RCMP had a conversation with any lawyer.
“However, we would not discuss any private conversations we have had anyway,” she said in an emailed statement.
“The investigation is still ongoing, that has not changed. I cannot speculate on the status of any charges as we are still investigating.”
No criminal charges does not preclude the possibility of charges being laid under the Emergency Measures Act.
Joël Etienne, lawyer to Dr. Jean Robert Ngola, the doctor accused of being patient zero in a New Brunswick COVID-19 outbreak, said he received confirmation a few days ago that his client won’t face criminal charges. (EME Professional Corp.)
“For us, it is a truth that he has always been innocent and that is why we ask the premier of the province once again to apologize,” said Etienne.
If Higgs refuses to apologize, Etienne has called the option of going to court to move the case forward “very serious.”
Higgs could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. He will meet with reporters at 4 p.m., spokesperson Nicolle Carlin said.
The premier stood by his comments last month when Etienne wrote a letter that said he had proof his client was not patient zero and seeking a public apology.
“I am quite comfortable in the position that I’ve taken, how I’ve spoken about it and the reality of how this situation developed,” Higgs said at that time.
“And if the facts are all on the table, I am sure that others will be clear as well.”
Private investigators for Ngola concluded that he “could not have been the first patient” and that his trip to Quebec was not the source, according to his lawyer.
During Ngola’s overnight round trip, he interacted with only a few people — all of whom subsequently tested negative for COVID-19, said Etienne.
Based on the coronavirus incubation period of up to two weeks, Etienne said the investigator concluded Ngola was infected in New Brunswick by either a patient or a colleague and did not carry the virus over the border.