Did Spanish nurse catch Ebola by touching her face as she removed protective suit’s gloves? Doctor treating her for killer bug reveals ‘errors’ may have been made
- Nurse Teresa Romero Ramos had been treated infected missionaries
- 44-year-old admits she ‘hasn’t got the slightest idea’ how she became ill
- Said she followed protocols throughout including wearing a safety suit
- Doctor treating her says she may have touched her face with gloves
- Unnamed medics have also claimed suits do not meet WHO standards
- Another said training for outbreak had consisted of ‘a ten-minute chat’
- Husband Javier Limon Romero also in quarantine and paid tribute to wife
- Mr Romero has claimed Spanish health officials want to put down his dog
- Five people have been treated for Ebola in Madrid with two testing negative
The Spanish nurse who became the first person in Europe to become infected with Ebola may have contracted the disease by touching her face as she removed her protective suit, it emerged today.
A doctor treating Teresa Romero Ramos said there may have been ‘errors’ in how she removed the suit, leading her to touch her face ‘possibly with the glove’.
Mrs Romero Ramos, 44, is being treated in isolation at Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital under police guard after testing positive for the virus on Monday. She was one of the medical team that treated two repatriated Spanish priests who died from Ebola.
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Care: Teresa Romero Ramos, 44, from Galicia in north-west Spain, one of the medical team that treated two repatriated Spanish priests who died from Ebola, and is shown here cleaning a room after one of their deaths
Unwell: Teresa Romero Ramos, the Spanish nurse who is the first case of Ebola contagion in Europe, says she has ‘no idea’ how she got it
Security: Police in Spain are guarding the nurse’s home and also her hospital room
She had earlier told Spanish media she ‘hadn’t the slightest idea’ how she had contracted the killer disease and that she had followed all protocols in dealing with Ebola patients.
This came after medics in Madrid voiced fears that their protective suits do not provide an adequate barrier to the killer virus, with one saying that they do not meet World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
In addition, a doctor at the hospital where the nurse is being treated claimed that his protective suit training had been ‘totally insufficient’.
But Dr German Ramirez said Mrs Romero Ramos may have made an error while removing the suit.
Map of where Ebola is incubating outside Africa
‘That’s what we were working on – on the errors possibly made while removing the protective suit,’ he said. ‘I’ve spoken to her three times, and she has authorised me to give this information.’
There have been questions over whether the health workers caring for the stricken priests had been properly trained, with one member of staff saying that training for such an incident consisted of just a ‘ten-minute chat’.
Demonstration: Spanish health care workers and unions complain of a long list of failings in the case of a nurse who contracted Ebola while treating two elderly missionaries who died from the virus
Meanwhile, pictures circulated on Twitter showed that Mrs Romero Ramos was initially treated behind a curtain sealed off by striped sticky tape, adding to fears that the Spanish hospitals were ill- equipped to deal with such a potentially serious outbreak.
The fact that someone has contracted Ebola on mainland Europe – along with the fact that a man travelled from Liberia to the US via Belgium while infected – has sparked fears in the UK over the spread of the deadly disease.
Prime Minister David Cameron chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra contingencies committee to discuss the ongoing epidemic, which has killed more than 3,500 people.
Ebola is spread via bodily fluids like vomit or diarrhoea, but Mrs Romero Ramos was wearing a full protective suit.
When asked how she thinks she became ill she told newspaper El Mundo: ‘I can’t tell you, I haven’t the slightest idea’. She was asked if she did anything that would have put herself at risk she said: ‘No, not at all,’ adding ‘yes, I followed protocols’.
Mrs Romero Ramos said days after contracting Ebola: ‘I’m a little better now.’ But she would not expand on her health and was described as struggling to speak by the journalist who briefly interviewed her.
I can’t tell you, I haven’t the slightest idea
Teresa Romero Ramos, when asked how she thinks she became ill
Her husband Javier Limon Romero, who is also in quarantine over fears he may too have contracted the disease, said his wife was not worried about getting ill and volunteered to help the priests.
‘She volunteered. Other people run way. But not Teresa,’ he said. ‘I have heard that others called in sick. But not Teresa. She asked to be sent there.’
The nurse began to feel ill on September 30 while on leave after treating the two missionaries, but was not admitted to hospital until five days later.
Asked where she was during this time, her husband Javier Limon told El Mundo: ‘At home, mainly.’
Armed police have been spotted outside the nurse’s Madrid home in the suburb of Alcorcon, as curious members of the public gathered outside.