SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia said Monday it was suspending migration from Ebola-hit West African nations to try to prevent the virus from crossing its borders, as a teenager who arrived from Guinea tested negative for the disease.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told parliament the government had stopped issuing visas to people from those countries hit by the disease, which has claimed close to 5,000 lives in its worst outbreak.
“These measures include temporarily suspending our immigration programme, including our humanitarian programme, from EVD (Ebola Virus Disease) affected countries,” he said.
“This means we are not processing any application from these affected countries.”
People who had already been granted visas on humanitarian grounds would be able to travel to Australia, but would be subject to three separate health checks before departure as well as screening on arrival.
But officials would cancel and refuse non-permanent or temporary visas for people who had not yet departed for Australia, Morrison said.
The restrictions came as an 18-year-old girl 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 Monday and told reporters “she now has no fever, which is a really good sign”.
“She of course was very relieved to be given the information,” Young said, adding that the teenage girl would remain in hospital and undergo a second test for the deadly virus on Wednesday.