Rajoy visited the hospital on Friday to meet with key medical staff to discuss how best to keep the virus from spreading should new patients surface. Speaking in front of the hospital, Rajoy suggested that the nation keep its eyes on the only confirmed Ebola patient still alive in the country: Teresa Romero, a nurse auxiliary who contracted the virus from a missionary flown in for Ebola treatment from Sierra Leone.
“The first objective in the struggle against Ebola in Spain is named Teresa Romero,” Rajoy told the public, “She is the only one here who is sick.” These were Rajoy’s first direct remarks regarding Romero’s diagnosis.
According to the UK’s Sky News, his remarks were not received warmly. The staff, who have protested that they were never sufficiently trained to properly handle the virus, shouted “get out” at the Prime Minister and threw medical equipment angrily in his general direction.
The Daily Mail reports that the situation for health workers at the hospital has worsened due to Romero’s diagnosis; as fewer employees volunteer to work extra hours for fear of catching the deadly virus, more employees must work longer hours. In addition to complaining of insufficient training, even those doctors who have been educated in how to handle the virus feel they are not receiving adequate support in their labor.
The doctor who first treated Teresa Romero before her diagnosis was confirmed, Dr. Juan Manuel Parra Ramírez, alleged in a private memorandum to his superiors obtained by the Spanish press that he only found out that he had come into contact with an Ebola patient from the news, and that at all times during his treatment of Romero, he felt the sleeves on his protective suit were too short. His objections have fueled fears in Madrid’s medical community that the government and hospital officials are not doing enough to protect those on the front lines of combating the disease.
In addition to Romero, Spain is currently keeping 16 people under surveillance who came into contact with her during the virus’s incubation period. None of these individuals, however, have exhibited symptoms of Ebola so far.