Spain is getting ready to deal with another potential Ebola case, just two weeks after a nursing aide who contracted and survived the disease was sent home along with over 20 other people who were in contact with her.
A female physician from Navarre who works for Doctors Without Borders in Mali was flown to Madrid for preventive treatment on Friday morning after accidentally coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of a confirmed patient on Thursday.
While the woman does not officially have Ebola or any of its symptoms, a decision was made to take her to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital, which has been treating all of Spain’s Ebola cases, for isolation and observation.
“She is not sick, she is not going to get anyone sick and she is going to be in preventive quarantine. Right now she does not pose any risk,” said Fernando Simón, spokesman for the Ebola Crisis Management Special Committee, a group that was created while the nursing assistant Teresa Romero was fighting for her life at Carlos III.
The fact that Romero contracted the disease while treating an Ebola-stricken missionary who had been repatriated from Africa, and the way the entire issue was handled by medical and political authorities, triggered a national crisis and prompted authorities to promise a review of all protocols.
Whether this new patient is indeed infected with Ebola or not remains unclear, as official statements reveal.
“The aid worker was infected while treating a confirmed patient around four or five in the morning,” said Simón at an emergency appearance Thursday night. Then he added: “The probability of infection is not easy to determine, but given her contact with contaminated material, the probability of contagion is high.
“She has no symptoms and until two days from now she has no possibility of developing any symptoms. Let us hope that she will not develop symptoms in these 48 hours. Now the safety conditions are guaranteed. We are going to give her all the best chances of overcoming the disease.”
Government sources explained that the volunteer physician accidentally pricked herself with the needle she was using on an Ebola patient in Bamako, the capital of Mali.
The Defense Ministry had offered an aircraft for the repatriation, military sources confirmed. But Doctors Without Borders declined the offer, preferring to use a medically equipped airplane chartered directly by the non-profit.
The aircraft landed at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base shortly before 10am, the wire service Efe reported.
The first Ebola repatriations to Spain were those of the missionaries Miguel Pajares and Miguel García Viejo, both of whom were ill at the time and died a few days later at Carlos III. It was while she was helping treat the latter that Teresa Romero contracted the virus herself, spending 30 days in hospital.
Some of the hospital personnel who treated her remain in observation.