Oct 10, 2014 11:20 AM
Spain PM visits hospital treating Ebola patient
The Associated Press
MADRID (AP) Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made a surprise visit Friday to the Madrid hospital where a nursing assistant infected with Ebola is being treated, trying to brush aside criticism from unions and opposition politicians alleging the national health care system provided substandard high-risk disease training and protective gear to doctors, nurses and ambulance personnel.
A group of health care workers jeered, shouting "Out! Out!" as Rajoy's motorcade drove past and one protester threw small objects at it.
The infected nursing assistant, Teresa Romero, was scheduled to start receiving the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp after Spain managed to obtain some of the drug, which is in extremely short supply worldwide, a spokeswoman for Madrid's regional health agency said on condition of anonymity because of agency rules. She could not immediately provide information on where Spain had obtained it.
There is no proof that ZMapp works, and at least one Ebola patient who received the drug produced by a small U.S. company later died.
Romero was listed in serious but stable condition at Madrid's Carlos III hospital, where Rajoy spent an hour inside talking with health care professionals. He did not directly address the claims that Spain was ill-prepared to deal with Romero's case when she tested positive Monday, but he announced the country is setting up a high-level special commission to prevent an outbreak of Ebola that will meet daily.
Rajoy also praised Spanish health care workers and said the World Health Organization thinks "the risk is very low that this disease will spread in the future" in Spain and Europe.
Romero, 44, is the first person known to have caught the disease outside West Africa in the current Ebola outbreak.
She was helping to care for a Spanish priest infected in West Africa who died at the hospital on Sept. 25. Health authorities suspect she may have been infected after touching her gloved hand to her face while taking off protective gear.
Romero's husband is also quarantined, along with a nurse who displayed possible symptoms but tested negative for Ebola in a first test and will undergo a second one. Ten people who came into contact with Romero checked themselves into the hospital voluntarily for observation for 21 days instead of staying at home.
Associated Press writers Jorge Sainz, Alan Clendenning and Harold Heckle in Madrid contributed to this report.