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Australia suspends immigration from Ebola-hit nations

27 October 2014, 19:00

Sydney - 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.

"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 being monitored by health officials, Young added.

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

"So 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, Health Minister Peter Dutton said. All have tested negative.

Morrison called on Australians and other travellers to inform immigration officials about their travel history when they enter the country "if you have been in West Africa up to 21 days prior to your arrival".

"This is especially important if you have had a broken journey en route to Australia," he said.

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