Three more people were admitted to Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital on Thursday on suspicion that they may have contracted the Ebola virus.
One is a patient who was moved in the same ambulance that took Teresa Romero, the nursing assistant who is so far the only confirmed case in Spain, to a hospital in Alcorcón before her transfer to Carlos III.
The second patient was working in Liberia, one of the countries in West Africa where Ebola is most active
The ambulance was not disinfected until 12 hours after Romero was in it, when the crew ended its shift. In that space of time, seven people were transported in it.
The second patient to be admitted on Thursday is a missionary who was working in Liberia, one of the countries in West Africa where the Ebola virus is most active.
There are clear signs of hope but it is not yet time to start celebrating” Medical committee spokesman Fernando Simón
The third is a Nigerian man who was on a Paris-Madrid flight and reported fever, a headache and trembling. He was completing his onward journey from Lagos.
Fernando Simón, spokesman for the government committee created to deal with the Ebola crisis, said that the patient who rode in the infected ambulance remained at home until proper safety measures could be provided for her transfer to Carlos III, the hospital at the origin of the crisis. He added that the results of this person’s blood tests would come in later on Thursday.
It was at Carlos III that two Spanish missionaries with Ebola were treated after their repatriation. Teresa Romero, a nursing assistant, likely contracted the disease after coming in contact with the second missionary, Manuel García Viejo, whose room she cleaned following his death.
Romero thereafter went home and resumed her daily activities for a week despite feeling increasingly worse. Despite making repeated calls to Carlos III warning about a fever, Romero was told to go to her local health center, then to her nearest hospital. People who came in contact with her during this time are being monitored for symptoms of the disease.
Since then, protocols have been changed and people with a fever of over 37.7º are being considered at risk of Ebola. Romero was not admitted earlier because the accepted limit had been set at 38.6º.
Spain has also activated a health alert at Madrid’s Barajas airport after a Nigerian man on an Air France flight from Paris complained about a fever and trembling. Health Minister Ana Mato has confirmed that he has been admitted into Carlos III as well.
The third person is a missionary from the Order of Saint John of God, the same group that the other two repatriated missionaries, Miguel Pajares and Manuel García Viejo, belonged to.
Meanwhile, 15 other people are under observation at Carlos III after coming in close contact with the nursing assistant Teresa Romero when she was already showing symptoms of Ebola. These include health workers and three staff members from a hair salon where Romero went in for a beauty treatment.
No sunlight for Romero
The committee spokesman also reiterated a complaint by the medical team treating Romero to the effect that they have had to keep the blinds down to protect her from press photographers. This means that the patient never gets to see the light of day, as isolation requirements prevent the installation of new curtains or screens.
“From a medical viewpoint and in terms of the patient’s quality of life, light is important,” said Simón, adding that ultraviolet light relieves depression. “I would ask the media to be a little careful.”
The hospital’s head of virology, José María Echevarría, said that Romero is “showing signs of overcoming the infection.” Complications are arising from her lung problems, which are compounded by the fact that she is a smoker, said the physician in an interview on Antena 3.
The US case
As for the United States, where two nurses who cared for an Ebola patient in Dallas have contracted the virus, Echevarría said that “this proves that treatment of Ebola patients in the developed world has its risks, and we must keep in mind that a patient at an African hospital does not have access to the same kinds of treatment as those in a developed country.”