Spanish nurse tests negative for Ebola after treatment | News | DW | 20.10.2014
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Spanish nurse tests negative for Ebola after treatment

A Spanish nurse infected with Ebola has tested negative for the virus after undergoing treatment. On Monday, the EU's foreign ministers are set to meet in Luxembourg to discuss a common response to the Ebola outbreak.

Teresa Romero tested negative for Ebola on Sunday after undergoing two weeks of treatment, amid accusations that the Spanish government had botched the initial response to her infection.

Romero will have to undergo a second test before being officially declared virus free. She remains quarantined at Carlos III hospital in Madrid.

"I am very happy today, because we can now say that Teresa has vanquished the disease," her husband Limon said in a video recorded at his hospital bed. Although Limon hasn't tested positive for Ebola, he too remains under quarantine.

Romero was treated with blood plasma from people infected with Ebola. The Spanish government has declined to provide further information, respecting Romero's request not to publish details about her treatment.

Health workers protest

The 44-year-old nurse caught Ebola while treating two infected Spanish missionaries in Madrid, the first reported case of transmission outside of West Africa. Manuel Garcia Viejo had fallen ill in Sierra Leone, while Miguel Pajares became sick in Liberia. Both missionaries were repatriated to Spain, where they died of the virus.

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Romero recalled touching a glove to her face after leaving Pajares' hospital room. Ebola is contracted through bodily fluids.

Prior to the release of Romero's test results, hundreds of Madrid health workers staged a protest on Sunday calling for the resignation of Spain's health minister, Ana Mato. The health care workers have accused Mato of botching Madrid's response to Ebola, saying that cuts in Spain's health system had left them unprepared to deal with the virus.

Ebola screening in Brussels

Meanwhile, Belgium has become the latest country to begin screening airline passengers arriving from the three West African nations worst hit by Ebola. Some 1,000 passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone arrive at the Brussels Airport every week.

Starting Monday, Belgian authorities will check the body temperature of passengers arriving from those countries. Anyone with a reading above 38 degrees Celsius is required to meet with a medical professional and fill out a questionnaire.

Workers at the Brussels airport had threatened to strike if authorities didn't start Ebola screenings. Canada, the Czech Republic, France and the United States have already implemented such precautions.

EU to discuss Ebola strategy

The EU's foreign ministers are set to meet in Luxembourg on Monday, where they will discuss how to coordinate the response of the 28 member states to the Ebola outbreak.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for the EU to deploy its own team of medical personnel to West Africa.

"In the common fight against the invisible virus, no country can be successful alone - an international coalition has to come together," Steinmeier said during the World Health Summit in Berlin on Sunday.

"We should at least consider sending a civil EU mission," he continued. "This would offer member states, which don't have their own national structures on the ground in West Africa, a platform to send medical personnel."

slk/lw (AP, AFP, dpa)