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Australia suspends immigration from nations hit hardest

Updated: 2014-10-28 07:58
By Agence France-Presse in Sydney (China Daily)

Australia said on Monday it was suspending immigration from Ebola-affected West African countries to try to prevent the virus from crossing its borders.

Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament that the government had stopped issuing visas to people from the countries hit by the disease, which has claimed close to 5,000 lives in its worst outbreak.

"These measures include temporarily suspending our immigration program, including our humanitarian program," he said.

"This means we are not processing any applications from these affected countries."

People who had already been granted visas on humanitarian grounds will be able to travel to Australia, but will be subject to three separate health checks before departure as well as screening on arrival.

But officials will cancel and refuse nonpermanent or temporary visas for people who had not yet departed for Australia, Morrison said.

The restrictions came as an 18-year-old woman who arrived in Australia from Guinea 12 days ago with eight relatives remained in isolation in a Queensland hospital after testing negative for Ebola, authorities said.

The teenager - who was moving to Australia permanently on a humanitarian visa - had been under home quarantine in Brisbane before she developed a raised temperature and was placed in isolation at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital on Sunday.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young announced the negative results on Monday and said "she now has no fever, which is a really good sign".

Home quarantine

"She of course was very relieved to be given the information," Young said, adding that the woman will remain hospitalized and undergo a second test for the deadly virus on Wednesday.

"She understands that a second test needs to be done. But given that her fever has resolved at this time, and she's got no other symptoms, she's feeling well."

Three other families who arrived recently in Queensland from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the vast majority of Ebola cases have occurred, are in home quarantine and are being monitored by health officials, Young added.

"They've all come from sites in West Africa that have had significant numbers of transmissions of Ebola virus disease," Young said.

"They're at an increased risk, so that's why we've asked each of them to go into home quarantine."

The girl, whose name and nationality were not released, was the 12th person tested for Ebola in Australia, Australian Health Minister Peter Dutton said. All have tested negative.


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