The Ebola Diary: Tuesday, Oct 14 2014, Madrid

For two days running ebola has been relegated to a secondary news event. The papers, TV and radio are running with stories of the plebiscite for Catalonian independence (or lack thereof) and the other big C — corruption.

What little news (relative to last week’s saturation coverage) that comes our way regarding ebola is predominantly good; infected nurse’s aid, Teresa Romero Ramos is doing well and is reported to be producing her own antibodies to fight the virus; no further infections have been thrown up; protocols to deal with ebola have been tightened; an end to the chaos and uncertainty of last week (inertia when it came to contacting people with whom an infected Ms Romero Ramos might have come into contact, non-fumigation of her residence, fumbling press conferences, a farcical dealing with the matter of putting down her dog which encompassed a candlelight vigil by animal rights protesters and a mini-riot).

The message coming from government is one of control and calm. Everything is contained, everything is taken care of. There’s nothing to see here, folks, move on. A series of eminent doctors and virologists have been wheeled out to talk to the cameras, all on-message, all reassuring smiles and bonhomie. It’s a pity these boffins were nowhere to be seen on day one of the crisis, when we the people were left to our own devices to imagine the horrors that could potentially unfold in our city.

The only negative notes are contributed by front-line medics or their representatives and Ms Romero Ramos’s husband. The latter has written a stinging open letter to the head of Madrid’s medical services (he of the “you don’t need a masters to be able to put on a biosafety suit” comment) asking for his resignation, while there is talk of the nurses’ union taking their employer to court over breaches of health and safety legislation. A lesson may be learned from all this if those in authority are found accountable for the woeful levels of training and resourcing of the ebola emergency response team.


About ucronin

Microbiologist, brewer, writer, fan of James Joyce, guitar player and gardener, U. Cronin was born in the county town of Ennis, Co. Clare. He's spent much of his adult years moving country — between Spain and Ireland — and at present he is to be found back in his native town. Author of five novels and working on a sixth, U. is back in the lab and engaging his passion for looking for bugs using very bright lasers. Let's hope it turns out well!
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