Doctor blamed in Campbellton COVID-19 outbreak to face trial in June

·2 min read

The trial of a doctor who was alleged to be the source of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Campbellton region last May will be held in June, but his defence team could request a stay of proceedings if they don't obtain disclosure of all the evidence from the Crown.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola is charged with violating the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Act by allegedly failing to self-isolate for 14 days after travelling to Quebec.

Ngola, who is now based in Louiseville, Que., was not present at the Campbellton courthouse Monday, when his trial was set for June 15-25. He was represented by lawyers Christian Michaud, Joël Etienne and Jules César Katagurutse, who appeared by telephone.

Michaud told provincial court Judge Suzanne Bernard that the defence team has still not received full disclosure from the Crown. This is the third time the defence has indicated it has not received all the necessary evidence.

The defence is still seeking to obtain communications from the office of Premier Blaine Higgs.

Michaud advised the court he is optimistic the matter will proceed, following discussions with Crown prosecutor Sébastien Michaud.

In May, Higgs blamed an "irresponsible" medical professional who travelled to Quebec for personal reasons for the Campbellton outbreak. He said the person "was not forthcoming about their reasons for travel upon returning to New Brunswick" and didn't self-isolate.

Higgs didn't name the person, but Ngola was almost immediately identified as the individual and became the subject of threats and racism, his lawyers allege.

Ngola disputes he is 'patient zero' and contact tracing casts doubt on whether he was the source.

He pleaded not guilty last month.

The Crown plans to call about 15 witnesses during the trial.

A pre-trial conference will be held on Feb. 22.

Bernard previously indicated another judge will handle the trial.