Friday, January 2, 2015

176 turned away from Canada due to Ebola travel ban

Health workers prepare graves for Ebola victims in Guinea. Getty
 Stephanie Levitz | The Canadian Press
Newly-released figures show an estimated 176 people were turned away from Canada after the imposition of a partial travel ban from Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

The federal government put the controversial measures in place at the end of October, barring people from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from receiving visas to come to Canada.

At the same time, the government announced it would also stop processing visa and visitor applications in the queue.

In newly-published information, the immigration department says an estimated 176 applications have been affected, resulting in a return of approximately $20,000 in fees.

The World Health Organization had asked countries not to close their borders due to the Ebola outbreak and Canada’s move drew widespread condemnation.

But the government said the ban was only partial as it did not apply to Canadians coming from the affected region nor people who already had visas, and thus did not contravene international health regulations.

According to the most-recently available data from Statistics Canada, 904 people from the three countries came to Canada between January and October of this year.

The applications returned were for temporary resident visas and work and study permits, with the majority coming from Guinea.

The latest data from the WHO says there have been nearly 20,000 reported cases of the virus since the outbreak began last year and 7,588 reported deaths.

There are currently 37 Canadian Armed Forces doctors, medics, nurses and support staff working at a British-run Ebola treatment clinic in Sierra Leone.

Canada is also running two mobile laboratories in that country.

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