Australia Stops Visa Processing Of Applicants From Ebola-Hit Nations

By @vitthernandez on
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus
Government health workers administer blood tests to check for the Ebola virus in Kenema, Sierra Leone, June 25, 2014. Reuters

To make sure that Australia would continue to remain free from the Ebola virus, Canberra has ordered its embassies overseas to stop processing the visa applications in countries hit by the deadly virus.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament the measure, initiated by the Ministry of Health, is part of the government's strong controls on the entry of visa applicants from west Africa.

At the same time, Australia has suspended its humanitarian programme from Ebola-affected nations. Morrison added that previous visa applicants allowed to enter the country for humanitarian reasons must undergo three health checks before they leave their country of origin and up arrival at Australian gateways.

Even permanent visa holders who are outside Australia must first go through the mandatory 21-day quarantine period before they fly Down Under. The foreign ministry also cancelled and refused to grant non-permanent or temporary visas to persons who come from countries with Ebola infections.

Since the Australian Customs and Border Protection services put in place in August a new profile system to assist in screening of arriving passengers, more than 830 matches were referred to other officers for more assessments, Morrison said.

The stringent measures, criticised by the Opposition and Greens, has apparently yielded positive results since an 18-year-old woman who was quarantined at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital tested negative for the Ebola virus, disclosed Dr Jeannette Young, chief health officer of Queensland.

But the woman must still go through a second round of testing on Wednesday to find out the cause of her fever, Young said.

The doctor said a second test is needed to confirm the presence of Ebola virus because is a suspected carrier took the first test very early in the ailment's course, there might not be sufficient amount of the virus circulating in the body to be detected.

The woman flew in 12 days ago from Conakry in Guinea, together with eight members of her extended family, include six children. Besides her, 18 other people are under home quarantine in Brisbane, Young disclosed.

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