First Ebola case in Madrid alarms Pinoys

By Daniel Infante Tuaño

SPAIN — The news of a Spanish assistant nurse getting infected with the Ebola virus has caused fears among Filipinos based in Spain.

Spanish nurse aide Teresa Romero Ramos, who became the first case of Ebola transmission outside of Africa, was one of the health personnel who had attended to two Spanish missionaries with Ebola.

The missionaries, who were brought back to Spain from Africa, succumbed to the disease and died in Madrid’s Hospital Carlos III.

Spanish daily El Pais reported that Romero is in critical condition and about 16 people whom Romero came in contact with are quarantined and under observation in the same hospital.

The news of the contagion has been hogging the headlines in Spain for a week. It has alarmed about 20,000 Filipinos based in Madrid.

“I am worried..because Ebola virus is now in Europe and now it is happening in Madrid with one infected person,” Zoe Nadura said.

Eva de Luna Bardeloza reminded her fellow Filipinos to take extra precautions.

“Maging malinis sa kapaligiran, maging malinis sa sarili, maging maingat at disiplina, iyun lang para maiwasan ang sakit na Ebola,” de Luna said.

Travel fears

According to World Health Organization (WHO), transmission of Ebola virus is very low as one should have a direct contact with bodily fluids of an Ebola virus carrier.

Dr. Edwin Escala, who is also based in Madrid, further explained: “This is not an air borne virus…(It is) transmitted via contact with body fluids. Kasama po dito yung dugo, pawis, laway, semen or other body discharges.”

“Kung meron po tayong napapansin at nakikitang mga sintomas, huwag po mag-aatubiling pumunta sa pinakamalapit na health centers,” Escala said.

WHO said the symptoms of Ebola infection include ”sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools).”

”Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms,” the WHO Factsheet N°103 read.

Barcelona, another major city in Spain and home to more than 25,000 Filipinos, may be 619 kilometers away from Madrid, but the Filipinos there also expressed their concerns over the virus’ possible spread.

“Siyempre baka merong makapunta (dito sa Barcelona) na nagkaroon sa Madrid, natatakot din siyempre,” Yolanda Saulog said.

Sheryl Sia, meanwhile, is having second thoughts of traveling to Madrid.

“Pupunta ako ng Madrid pero ayoko nang tumuloy…Kasi magbakasyon ako sa Pilipinas. Hindi pupuwedeng madala ang virus na yan doon (sa Pilipinas) kawawa ang mga kababayan natin doon,” Sia said.

Budget cuts

The Spanish government has drawn flak for its handling of the health crisis. There are calls, especially from members of the medical community, for the health minister ro resign.

“I think she should resign and if she does not resign she should be fired definitely…Because she didn’t do her work properly…This person must be fired like any other person,” Montse Gil said.

Gil also shares the sentiments of Spain’s Federation of Associations for the Defence of Public Healthcare, blaming the decreased spending on health for the poor management of the situation.

The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy continues to call for calm, even as the country’s tourism sector and stock market suffered from the Ebola threat.

More than 4,000 have died worldwide due to Ebola as of October 8. Until now there is no vaccine or proven treatment against the virus. – with reports from Neil dela Cruz Gadiano

Watch the related TV report in Filipino with reports and voice of Neil dela Cruz Gadiano:


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