A priest who has been confirmed as the first Spaniard to be infected by the current outbreak of the Ebola virus is soon to be brought back to Spain for treatment. Miguel Pajares, aged 75, is one of the 1,600 cases to have been confirmed since March, when the most deadly wave of the condition began. As well as Liberia, where Pajares was based, the epidemic is also affecting Sierra Leone and Nigeria, with nearly 900 deaths reported so far.
The Spanish Health Ministry announced that the government has put into place a plan to repatriate Pajares, “in accordance with the highest security protocols from the World Health Organization.” These include a medical plane staffed by specialized personnel, and strict isolation measures.
According to the Defense Ministry, the aircraft that will collect the priest has been prepared at the Torrejón airbase in Madrid. It is expected to take off at around midday on Wednesday.
The priest will be taken to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, which is a branch of La Paz hospital. He is expected to arrive there at around 2am Thursday morning.
Pajares is reported to be weak, suffering a fever and has been in isolation since last Friday, together with another five patients in a hospital in Monrovia, which has been closed since last week. The treatment he is receiving is limited to paracetamol to control his temperature and liquids to combat dehydration.
Another two patients – missionary Chantal Pascaline Mutwamen, from Congo, and Paciencia Melgar, from Ecuatorial Guinea – are also infected with the virus.
Pajares had been taking care of the director of the hospital, Patrick Nshamdze, from Cameroon, who died from Ebola on Saturday. Initial tests suggested that the hospital chief did not have the virus, which is why the priest continued to feed and care for him. Now Pajares himself has caught Ebola, which is transmitted by body fluids such as sweat or blood.
“I would like to return [to Spain] because we have had very bad experiences here,” Pajares told Spanish news agency EFE on Tuesday. “We want to travel to Spain so that they treat us like people, as is God’s will.”