Spain fights 'difficult' Ebola crisis

10th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

Spain launched a crisis committee Friday to tackle the "complex and difficult" Ebola situation in the country, after drawing criticism over its handling of the case of a Madrid nurse infected with the deadly virus.

The health ministry and several other government departments, aided by scientific advisers, will form a "special committee for the management of the Ebola disease in Spain," deputy premier Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.

After visiting the Carlos III hospital where the infected nurse lay, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the situation was "complex and difficult," but he was "absolutely convinced" everything necessary would be done to beat the crisis.

The 44-year-old nurse, Teresa Romero, was diagnosed with the haemorrhagic fever Ebola on Monday, a week after first feeling ill.

She had earlier cared for two elderly missionaries before they died from the virus after getting infected in West Africa and were repatriated to Spain.

Officials are investigating what lapse in health safety protocol led to Romero being infected and why it took a week for medics to admit her to hospital.

Health workers' unions say training and equipment at the Carlos III hospital were insufficient.

The hospital specialises in infectious diseases but parts of it were recently closed at a time of public spending cuts.

The deputy prime minister told a news conference the government was working "to give the best care possible to Teresa Romero, to transmit calm to the population and to coordinate our actions".

Saenz said she herself would head the new committee, which will bring together Health Minister Ana Mato and representatives of various other ministries.

Angry health workers have protested, calling for Mato and other officials of the conservative governing Popular Party to resign over their handling of the nurse's case.

A separate "scientific committee" will be set up to advise the new government body on Ebola, Saenz added.

© 2014 AFP

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