Australia has temporarily stopped processing visas for people from West African countries worst hit by Ebola in an effort to prevent the virus from entering the country.
Australia’s Immigration Ministry said in a report to the parliament on Monday that the new rules would apply to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said non-permanent or temporary visas already granted to people from the three countries, who have not yet departed for Australia, would be canceled.
“These measures include temporarily suspending our immigration program, including our humanitarian program, from EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) affected countries,” he said, adding, “This means we are not processing any application from these affected countries.”
Permanent visa holders from West Africa will have to spend 21 days in quarantine before entering Australia.
The restriction comes after an 18-year-old girl, who arrived in Australia from Guinea earlier this month, tested negative for Ebola after showing symptoms.
According to the latest figures by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday, the number of confirmed, probable, and suspected people hit by Ebola has risen to 10,141. The disease has already claimed 4,922 lives.
Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia have taken the brunt of the spread of the disease, which is running amok in West Africa.
Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, and sweat. It has killed around two-thirds of those it has infected over the last four decades, with two outbreaks registering fatality rates approaching 90 percent.
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