Spanish government sets up Ebola crisis committee amid blame game

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Spanish government sets up Ebola crisis committee amid blame game

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The Spanish government is to set up a committee of scientific experts on the Ebola virus, headed by the Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.

It comes amid increasing recriminations following the news that assistant nurse Teresa Romero had contracted the virus in Madrid, after treating two Spanish missionaries who caught the fever in West Africa and subsequently died.

The top regional health official in Madrid, Javier Rodriguez, has said Romero took too long to admit she had made a mistake by touching her face with the glove of her protective suit while taking it off.

“She has taken days to recognise that she may have made a mistake when taking off the suit. If she had said it earlier, it would have saved a lot of work,” he said in a radio interview.

The EU has asked Madrid to explain how the virus could have spread on a high-security ward.

The Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato – no longer effectively in charge of the crisis with the setting up of the new committee – has been unable to give an explanation over the chain of errors.

“She (the nurse) is receiving medical treatment recommended by her doctors. They are able to offer to her all that treatment. But I can only tell you what we know via the media – we have no more information. We do know her condition is evolving but it remains the same as before, so it’s still serious,” she told a news conference.

Altogether 14 people are now in isolation at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid, either under observation or being treated over suspected symptoms.

Nurses pelted the car of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with surgical gloves as he visited the hospital.

Unions accuse the government of deflecting blame over health service failings, and say health workers lack training in how to deal with Ebola patients.