MADRID (AFP) – A Spanish nurse who was the first person to catch Ebola outside Africa has been cured of the deadly virus according to definitive test results, doctors said Tuesday.
“The criteria set by the World Health Organization for curing the Ebola virus have been fulfilled… She is now cured,” Doctor Jose Ramon Arribas, head of the Carlos III hospital’s infectious diseases unit, told a news conference.
The diagnosis of Teresa Romero, 44, on October 6 sparked fears that the disease would spread in Europe.
It has so far killed more than 4,500 people in west Africa, according to the WHO.
Romero was one of the nursing staff at the Carlos III hospital who treated two elderly Spanish missionaries who caught the disease in Africa and died in Madrid in August and September.
Romero’s husband Javier Limon and another 14 people who had contact with the nurse before she was diagnosed are under observation at the hospital but none has yet shown symptoms.
Arribas appeared alongside other doctors at Carlos III to confirm Romero had beaten the disease after a specialist laboratory confirmed that a fourth and final round of tests had shown her to be clear of the virus.
He said Romero could take “a few days” to completely get over the symptoms, but she no longer has the disease.
Tuesday’s news sparked relief after two tense weeks which raised public sympathy for Romero and questions about safety procedures and public spending cuts in Spain’s health sector.
“Someone surviving the Ebola virus is always a cause for celebration,” said Marta Arsuaga, one of the doctors who have been working round the clock treating Romero.
Arribas said that according to WHO guidelines, officials will have to wait until 42 days after the curing of the last infected patient to declare the country free of Ebola.