Four people with fever considered at risk for ebola were being tested in Spain yesterday for the virus, including one who arrived on an Air France jet that was isolated at Madrid’s airport as a precaution, officials said.
It came hours before EU health ministers agreed to “co-ordinate” the screening of air passengers coming from African countries affected by ebola.
The European Commission “will immediately undertake an audit of exit screening systems in place in the affected countries... to check their effectiveness and reinforce them as necessary,” said EU health commissioner Tonio Borg.
However, each EU member state will be allowed to determine whether or not screening will take place.
Earlier, in the Spanish incident, other passengers were allowed to disembark. But a passenger with a fever who had travelled from Nigeria was taken by ambulance with a driver wearing protective gear to Madrid’s Carlos III hospital.
Another person with a fever who came into contact with infected Spanish nursing assistant Teresa Romero before she was hospitalised on October 6 was also sent to the same hospital, the health ministry said.
Romero’s condition, meanwhile, appeared to be improving, a ministry official said.
A missionary was transported to the hospital because he came down with a fever after returning to Spain from Liberia, where his order treats ebola patients, Spain’s government said. Two Spanish priests with the same San Juan de Dios order died in Madrid in August 12 and September 25 after being repatriated from West Africa for treatment.
A fourth person hospitalised with fever yesterday for testing was a Red Cross health worker who recently worked with ebola patients in Sierra Leone and returned home to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, officials said.
The Air France flight carrying 163 people was isolated after arriving from Paris in a remote part of Madrid’s airport for disinfection.
Meanwhile, Danish authorities tested a medical worker who had been in West Africa.
In Geneva, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said the ebola death toll would rise to more than 4,500 this week from among 9,000 people infected.
Dr Isabelle Nuttall of the WHO said the new numbers also show the outbreak was hitting health workers hard, with 2,700 infected and 236 dead.
Dr Nuttall said ebola cases were growing in Guinea’s capital of Conakry.
But she said problems with data-gathering in Liberia, which has a significant under-reporting of ebola cases in Monrovia, its capital, make it hard to draw any conclusions there.
Dr Nuttall said the focus of the world’s efforts should remain on the three West African countries where the outbreak has been spreading out of control: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Until now two nurses in Dallas and a Madrid nursing assistant are the only ones known to have contracted ebola outside the hot zone.
Dr Nuttall said it would take months before the outbreak was stopped, but the WHO has identified 14 African countries where being prepared and containing ebola was a top priority.
Those are Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, South Sudan and Togo.
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