• Spain's news in English

Spain admits weak points in Ebola protocols

The Local/AFP · 8 Oct 2014, 11:00

Published: 08 Oct 2014 11:00 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

There were "many hypotheses" said Fernando Simón, the health ministry's emergency services coordinator has told Spain's COPE radio station.

The official admitted the existence of "weak points in the procedures for applying the protocol" for treating Ebola.

One of the theories being looked at was whether there had been a failure of protocol at the moment at which the nurse, Teresa R. R. had removed her protective clothing.

London-based professor in global health Peter Piot has suggested this as a cause, describing the moment of removing the suit as "very dangerous". 

"One is covered in sweat, you take off your glasses and you rub your eyes, and this can be the end," he said.

But Simón said other possibilities being looked at included a puncture in the clothing or contact with bodily fluids.

Forty -year-old nurse Teresa R. R. began to feel ill on September 30 while on leave after treating the two patients in the isolation unit of Madrid's La Paz-Carlos III hospital. But she did not go to hospital until Sunday — five days later — complaining of a fever, government officials said.

She is now being treated herself in the same unit.

Asked where she was during this time, her husband Javier Limon told daily newspaper El Mundo: "At home, mainly."

The nurse, who is being treated in isolation at the Madrid hospital where she worked, told the newspaper she was feeling "a bit better".

Asked by the newspaper if she knew how she could have contracted the virus,  she said: "I don't know what to say, I don't have any idea."

Health officials said they were trying to find out who she came into contact with, and were monitoring 30 people, including co-workers and her husband, for Ebola symptoms.

The infection also sparked questions about how safety procedures were applied when treating the two missionaries.

The nurse had treated Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, 75, who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and died on August 12, as well as Manuel Garcia Viejo, 69, who was repatriated from Sierra Leone and died on September 25th.

Pajares was the first patient in the current Ebola outbreak to be evacuated to Europe for treatment.

The infected nurse is believed to have contracted the virus six weeks later while caring for Garcia Viejo, whose room officials said she visited twice, once to treat him and once to clean the room.

Story continues below…

Both missionaries were treated in the isolation unit at the hospital, and the medical team that cared for them were closely monitored.

On Tuesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for health professionals to be allowed to do their work, and reminded MPs that Spain's health system was among the best in the world.

"We will get past this," he said of the situation, promising "total transparency" in regards to the issue.

In Brussels on Tuesday an EU spokesman said the European Commission had written to the Spanish health ministry demanding an explanation. 

The case followed a wake-up call on Ebola from US President Barack Obama, who warned on Monday that "some large countries are not doing enough" to tackle the epidemic.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available