La Fe Hospital in Valencia issued a statement at 6 p.m. on Wednesday evening saying that the lab results, which had been sent to Spain’s National Microbiology Centre near Madrid, had tested negative for the Ebola virus, and that the patient, a man from Guinea Conakry, was making “encouraging progress”.
Regional health authorities in Valencia activated their infectious disease protocols on Monday night after the man, who is “resident in Europe” according to a Spanish Health Ministry spokeswoman, was admitted to hospital with Ebola-like symptoms.
On Monday June 23, a Civil Guard agent at passport control at Valencia airport noticed the man did not look well and called the airport’s first aid team, who then warned the Health Ministry’s Foreign Healthcare section, a spokeswoman for Spanish airport authorities AENA in Valencia told The Spain Report.
In contradiction to the version offered by airport authorities, the Spanish Health Ministry in Madrid and regional health authorities in Valencia insist the man’s symptoms were noticed on board the airplane by the crew and that he was first isolated on board the aircraft.
The Health Ministry spokesman first told The Spain Report that the patient had arrived not on a flight from Morocco but on a boat, later confirming that the man had: “a high fever, dizziness, shakes and a cough”.
36 hours after the man was admitted to hospital, Spanish health officials are still waiting for the results of the tests.
Doctors Without Borders in Spain told The Spain Report that the Ebola test the organisation uses in field conditions in Guinea normally takes six hours to process, or up to 24 hours if there are transport problems from remote locations.
Spanish health authorities in Madrid and Valencia denied the tests in Spain were taking longer than necessary, and that Spanish doctors were following their own protocols. “We are not hiding anything”, said a spokeswoman for La Fe Hospital, “but I don’t know why it is taking so long”.
Valencian regional health minister, Manuel Llobart said today that: “We really hope that the results of the test are negative, but if it is positive, the protection of the population is guaranteed”, according to Spanish news agency EFE.
EFE also reports Mr. Llobart as saying the man was bleeding from his nose.
The ministry would not confirm the flight number, airline, time of arrival, number of flight crew or the total number of passengers on board, but the Valencia airport webpage shows just one company, Royal Air Maroc, operating a flight between Casablanca and Valencia.
Regional health authorities in Valencia issued a statement yesterday saying the man’s symptoms: “could correspond to said disease, which has NOT yet been confirmed or denied. We are waiting for the test results”, and asking for: “prudence and to not cause social alarm over the suspicion of a possible disease”.
The patient is currently in a “clinically stable” condition “in isolation”.
A spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation told The Spain Report that the WHO was in touch with the Spanish authorities and that they were following updates in the Spanish press, but that they do not have any further information at this point.
Data from the Center for Disease Control in the United States shows this spring’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa to have so far infected 599 people, 362 of whom have died, a 60% fatality rate.
Doctors Without Borders said on Monday that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was now: “out of control” and that a: “massive deployment of resources” was needed to deal with the healthcare emergency.
There are five species of the Ebola virus and the World Health Organisation says case outbreaks have a fatality rate of up to 90%. The virus spreads through human-to-human transmission and physical contact with infected surfaces or mucous substances.