By Rose Maramba
As the Spaniards sat down to dinner yesterday, 6 October, they were served the shocking news that their compatriot, a married 44-year-old assistant nurse who was part of the team that treated the Spanish missionaries Manuel Garcia Viejo and Miguel Pajares, who died of the Ebola virus on 12 August and 25 September respectively in the Carlos III Hospital in Madrid’s satellite town of Alcorcon, has tested positive. The missionaries contracted the disease in Liberia and Sierra Leone while working with Ebola victims.
The assistant nurse, whose name has not been disclosed to the public, is the first known person in the world to be infected with the virus outside Africa. She was admitted to the hospital with a high fever, a sober and visibly strained Ms. Ana Mato, Minister of Health, confirmed in a press conference. Last week, when the victim went on vacation after the second missionary died, she started to feel sick but at the time her fever was not high.
Every precaution had been taken from the time the missionaries were repatriated on a specially fitted Airbus to the time they were admitted to the hospital for treatment. It seems that the sick assistant nurse had sorted through Garcia Viejo’s personal effects after he passed away, apart from being at least once in the isolated zone of the hospital while the priest was being treated. She also assisted the second missionary. But all the medical staff wore two protective overalls, two pairs of gloves and glasses to ensure that there was no contagion.
It is claimed that extreme measures have been taken to protect the hospital staff who work in the hot zone.
In the very tense conference, the Health Minister tried to assure the country that “both the health ministry and public health authorities are working together to give the best care to the patient and to guarantee the safety of all citizens.”
The television, the radio and the Internet are full of the shocking news. Some participants of the talk shows have begun to demand that Ms. Mato go to Parliament and give a full report of what exactly happened, especially how, despite all the “extreme” precautions, the hapless assistant nurse was infected anyway.
Spanish health authorities are watching closely some 30 people who have worked with the patient, including her husband, for symptoms of the deadly disease.
It was a concerned, edgy and even indignant Spain that went to bed very late last night.
Featured image (Ebola virus virion) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Image Library, PD
Ana Mato by Alelapenya, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Alelapenya, CC-BY-SA 2.0
Researcher wearing Biosafety level 4 hazmat pressure suit to prevent infection from Ebola virus. United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, PD
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