Pathetic fallacy stalks Madrid as the heavy, black clouds close in around the city and its citizens experience one of the twenty-odd rainy days granted to it each year. There’s traffic gridlock, as there always is when a few drops fall from the sky. I’m guessing that everyone trapped in their cars is tuned into the twenty-four hour news phenomenon that is ebola.
Overnight, an additional two people have been put into quarantine. Both of these are doctors who cared for the infected, Ms Romero Ramos. All of the people so far placed in isolation, bar Ms Romero Ramos’s husband and a man who arrived off a flight from Nigeria, have been healthcare workers. One of the doctors quarantined last night, Juan Manuel Parra, tended to Ms Romero Ramos more or less on his own for an unbroken sixteen hours, a period during which her state grew steadily worse and during which she vomited, had diarrhoea and coughed up blood. His intervention probably saved her life but at great risk to himself. Only for the latter part of his administering to her did he wear the highest-level biosafety suit.
These people are heroes, simple as that. If the threat of an ebola outbreak is averted, it wont be down to the politicians standing behind their (shaky at best) emergency protocols or justifying cuts to healthcare budges. It wont be down to incompetent administrators shoving the blame for the mess we’re in as far down the chain of command as possible. It wont be down to right-wing journalists lamenting the tarnishing of “Brand España” abroad.
It will be down to the nurse’s aids, nurses, doctors and ambulance drivers who put their lives on the line while working under needlessly inadequate conditions.
At lunchtime, we hear that Ms Romero Ramos’s condition has worsened; she is having difficulty breathing and has been intubated. Another doctor has been placed in isolation, bringing the number up to six. As well as these half-dozen hospitalized patients, there are another fifty people who have been ordered to remain in their houses and are being monitored round the clock for the appearance of symptoms.
Over the last twenty-four hours, the status of public enemy number one has shifted from health minister, Ana Mato, to the health secretary for the Autonomous Region of Madrid, Javier Rodríguez. He has been busy in the media defending to the hilt Madrid’s ebola response protocols and sticking the boot into Ms Romero Ramos to the extent of declaring that one “doesn’t need a masters to put on a [protective] suit”, the implication being that the nurse’s aid’s ebola-positive status is her own doing. One feels like throwing him to the mob of animal rights protesters who are baying for blood following the putting down of Ms Romero Ramos’s dog, Excalibur.