Sierra Leone has claimed discrimination over Canada’s decision to suspend visa applications from citizens of Ebola-stricken nations.
The Canadian government announced the move on Friday, despite having no reported cases of Ebola in the country. Canada is the second developed nation to establish a ban, after Australia suspended visas for citizens of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea on Oct. 28.
“The government views the decision as discriminatory, coming at a time when we are trying to ease the isolation, and not reinforce it,” Theo Nicol, Sierra Leone’s deputy information minister, told AFP on Saturday.
“Canada’s action is not taken with the interests of West African states in mind,” he said. “As a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Sierra Leone particularly feels we should share common understanding and goodwill.”
Uganda has criticized Western policies that heighten fears over Ebola as well. Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo told Reuters: “If they create mass panic...this fear will eventually spread beyond ordinary people to health workers or people who transport the sick, and then what will happen? Entire populations will be wiped out.”
Canadian citizens or foreign nationals who already have a visa or do not require one can still enter the country and will go through health screenings.
Meanwhile, a state judge in Maine on Friday rejected the state’s request to restrict the movements of Kaci Hickox, a nurse placed on quarantine in New Jersey upon returning from Sierra Leone.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest report, the outbreak has claimed the lives of 4,951 of the 13,567 people infected with the virus.
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