SYDNEY - Australia issued a blanket ban on visas from West African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak Tuesday, making it the first rich nation to shut its doors to the region and earning criticism from health experts and rights groups. Australia has not recorded a case of Ebola despite a number of scares, and conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott has so far resisted repeated requests to send medical personnel to help battle the outbreak on the ground.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told parliament Monday that all non-permanent or temporary visas from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia were being cancelled and permanent visa holders who had not yet arrived in Australia will be required to submit to a 21-day quarantine period. Healthcare workers in Queensland state are being asked to enter voluntary quarantine upon returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa. A number of U.S. states, including New York and New Jersey, have also imposed mandatory quarantines on returning doctors and nurses.