First, there was one, now there are four.
Health officials in Spain say three more people are hospitalized on Ebola watch. The news comes a day after a nurse who treated two Ebola patients at a Madrid hospital became infected with the disease — reportedly the first known case of Ebola to be contracted outside of West Africa during the current outbreak.
Approximately 22 contacts of the woman, often referred to as the ‘Spanish Ebola nurse,’ have been identified and are being monitored, Madrid health officials told a press conference on Tuesday.
The officials added that the hospitalized include the nurse’s husband, another health worker and a traveler who had spent time in one of he affected West African countries.
The Guardian newspaper reports that Spanish health authorities are blaming substandard equipment and a failure to follow protocol for the nurse’s infection.
Staff at the hospital told El País that the protective suits they were given did not meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards, which specify that suits must be impermeable and include breathing apparatus.
Staff also pointed to latex gloves secured with adhesive tape as an example of how the suits were not impermeable and noted that they did not have their own breathing equipment.
In addition, according to The Guardian article — referencing Spanish news sources — precautionary protocol was not followed prior to the nurse being diagnosed with Ebola.
El Mundo reported that it was the nurse who asked to be tested for Ebola, having to insist repeatedly on being tested before it was done on Monday.
While staff at the Alcorcón hospital were waiting for the test results, the nurse remained in a bed in the emergency room, separated only by curtains from other patients, hospital staff told El Mundo.
Their version of events clashes with that of health authorities, who have said the patient was isolated from the first moment.
As of October 3, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a total of 7,493 Ebola infections worldwide. At least 3,439 people are estimated to have died after contracting the disease.
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