A ransomware attack is behind a province-wide disruption of health-care services in Newfoundland and Labrador that’s now entered its third day, CBC News has learned.
Sources tell CBC the attack is affecting Eastern and Central Health servers, leading to a delay in health-care services across all four health authorities in the province, and effecting everything from chemotherapy to routine laboratory testing to COVID-19 assessments.
Health officials are set to address the IT system outage on Monday morning. Health Minister John Haggie, along with Eastern Health CEO David Diamond, will hold a media briefing at 11 a.m. NT, live streamed on the provincial government’s YouTube channel.
Despite multiple requests from CBC News, the province still hasn’t commented on the outage.
Ransomware attacks use malicious software to block or encrypt files, with a ransom payment demanded in order to restore access.
The Department of Health stated in a news release Sunday evening that the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information — which handles IT needs for the province, including electronic health records — is working on the problem along with Bell Aliant and the health authorities.
In Eastern Health, all non-emergency procedures on Monday are cancelled and will be rescheduled, according to the news release. Virtual appointments, telehealth appointments, and services like cancer care are also stalled Monday in both the Eastern and Central Health regions.
Patients with appointments at private doctor’s clinics in the Eastern Health area are being asked to check directly with those clinics.
Chemotherapy at several hospitals in Western Health’s jurisdiction, including in Corner Brook, Stephenville and Port aux Basques are not happening Monday. In Labrador-Grenfell Health, all routine laboratory and diagnostic imaging appointments set for Monday will be rescheduled.
Email services at all health authorities are also down, Sunday’s media release said.
The IT problems first became apparent Saturday, as the Department of Health notified the public that several of the forms on its COVID-19 portal, such as the COVID-19 assessment form, were unavailable due to the outage.
People requiring a COVID-19 test should call 811.
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