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Originally published October 30 2014

Australia closes its borders to Ebola-afflicted West African countries to protect citizens

by J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) The Australian government has made a decision that tens of millions of Americans wish their own government would make: Canberra has decided to close the continent's borders to any travel from Ebola-stricken West Africa, citing concern for Australian citizens.

As expected, though, the move did not come without criticism: Leaders of the three worst-hit nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea complained that Australia's decision was stigmatizing to people of those countries who are healthy, and -- ironically -- that the travel bans would somehow make battling the disease harder (the latter excuse is the same one that has been used by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Dr. Thomas Frieden in justifying the Obama Administration's decision not to close U.S. borders to the disease-afflicted West African countries).

As reported by Reuters:

Australia's ban on visas for citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea followed decisions by the U.S. military to quarantine soldiers returning from an Ebola response mission and some U.S. states to isolate aid workers. The United Nations said such measures could discourage vital relief work, making it harder to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

'It is discriminatory'

"Anything that will dissuade foreign trained personnel from coming here to West Africa and joining us on the frontline to fight the fight would be very, very unfortunate," said Anthony Banbury, head of the UN Ebola Emergency Response Mission, in an interview with Reuters while in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

His criticism of Australia's decision was joined by Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf. She told a news conference, "Anytime there's stigmatization, there's quarantine, there's exclusion of people, many of whom are just normal, then those of us who are fighting this epidemic, when we face that, we get very sad."

A government official in neighboring Sierra Leone went further, even calling the decision draconian.

"It is discriminatory in that ... it is not (going) after Ebola but rather it is ... against the 24 million citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea," said Information Minister Alpha Kanu. "Certainly, it is not the right way to go."

And yet, the virus has killed nearly 5,000 people and continues to ravage the populations in those three nations especially. Plus, the virus has leapfrogged to the United States and Spain, two countries that have not closed borders to West Africa.

Indeed, nine cases in the U.S. are what prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov. Chris Christie in New Jersey to order 21-day quarantines for anyone returning from the three West African nations who were in contact with Ebola patients -- especially healthcare workers. The Obama Administration, reportedly, was furious over their decision and reached out to both governors, who have since rescinded their orders.

'Nurse killer'

Meanwhile, the second Texas nurse who contracted the Ebola virus while treating infected Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan at a hospital in Dallas has left the hospital in recent days, cured.

"I'm so grateful to be well," said a smiling Amber Vinson, 29, at Emory University Hospital. She had been there for two weeks.

Despite the Obama Administration's refusal to seal U.S. borders to the afflicted West African nations, a wide majority of Americans believe that he should. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released October 14 found that more than two-thirds of Americans -- 67 percent -- want flight restrictions put in place. And, at the time, more than nine-tenths wanted stricter airport screening of patients returning from the region.

Some countries in Europe have already placed restrictions on flights from the three countries. Also, countries bordering those afflicted by Ebola -- Senegal, Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau -- have closed theirs as well.

Opponents of travel bans say they make it more difficult for healthcare workers to come to the affected countries. But some refer to Ebola as the "nurse killer", because it has claimed the lives of so many healthcare workers.

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