MADRID - Madrid will send an air force plane to Liberia to bring an elderly Spanish missionary infected with Ebola back to Spain for treatment, the defence ministry said late on Tuesday.
Defence Minister Pedro Morenes has ordered the preparation of a "medicalised" Airbus A310 which will be sent to the West African nation to retrieve the missionary, the defence ministry said in a Twitter message. The plane should be ready to take off from 5:00 am (0300 GMT) on Wednesday, the ministry added.
The defence ministry did not say when the missionary would arrive back in Spain or where he would be taken for treatment for the deadly hemorrhagic fever. Miguel Pajares, a 75-year-old Roman Catholic priest, tested positive for Ebola at a hospital in the Liberian capital Monrovia where he worked, the aid organisation he works for said earlier on Tuesday.
He has been in quarantine at the Saint Joseph Hospital in Monrovia, along with five other missionaries, since the death on Saturday of hospital director from Ebola. Pajares has worked in Liberia for over five decades, the last seven years at the Saint Joseph Hospital. Two other women who were also in quarantine, one from Congo and the other from Guinea, also tested positive for Ebola, Spanish aid organisation Juan Ciudad ONGD said in a statement.
During an interview broadcast on Monday, Pajares said he and the other missionaries in quarantine would like to be taken to Spain for treatment. "I have a fever. I don't have any appetite, I could go without eating anything, I have a lot of pain in my joints. I need help to move from one place to the other," he told CNN en Espanol, a 24-hour Spanish-language news network.
"We hope that we can be evacuated. For us it would be a huge joy because if we are taken to Spain we would be in good hands and we could get better, God willing," he added. Two Americans who worked for Christian aid agencies in Liberia and were infected with Ebola while taking care of patients in Monrovia were brought back to the United States for treatment in recent days.
Both patients were flown home on a Gulfstream private jet which had been fitted with a collapsible, mobile isolation unit designed to transfer employees from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exposed to contagious diseases.
Over 1,600 people who have been infected with the hemorrhagic fever in West Africa since March, marking the largest outbreak of Ebola in history. A total of 887 people have died of the virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria, a 55 per cent fatality rate, according to the World Health Organisation. The World Bank has pledged up to $200 million to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to help contain the outbreak. Ebola is transmitted through close contact with bodily fluids, and people who live with or care for patients are most at risk.