Australia halts visas from Ebola-affected region
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is suspending entry visas for people from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa in an attempt to keep out the disease.
The government is canceling and refusing non-permanent or temporary visas held by people who are not yet traveling, and new visa applications will not be processed. Permanent visa holders who have yet to arrive in Australia must submit to a 21-day quarantine before departure.
The countries most severely hit by the current outbreak are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Airport checks have identified more than 800 people who entered Australia from West Africa and who could have been in Ebola-stricken areas, but none has required a hospital visit after arriving.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Monday that “The government’s systems and processes are working to protect Australians.”
Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was “carefully considering” requests from the United States and Britain to send health-care personnel to West Africa.
Australia has donated 18 million Australian dollars ($16 million) to fight the disease but won’t send personnel until it has guarantees that any Australian who became infected in Africa received adequate medical treatment.