While the Obama administration continues its schizophrenic approach in countering the threat of Ebola spreading on US soil, on one hand demanding that states eliminate mandatory quarantines of citizens in their Ebola response protocol since a ban on travel from west Africa is considered out of the question, while on the other the Pentagon just approved a mandatory 3 week "isolation" of troops returning from Ebola missions, yesterday Canada announced a far more practical solution: America's northern neighbor said it was suspending visa applications for residents of Ebola-hit nations in a bid to prevent the deadly virus from crossing its borders.
As AFP reports, where the US was unwilling to halt inbound travel from impaired west-African nations, Canada had no such qualms and Immigration Canada said authorities would not process any visa applications from individuals who had been in an Ebola-affected nation "within three months prior to the date of the application."
"Canada has been a leader in the international efforts to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa," said Chris Alexander, Canada's immigration minister.
"The precautionary measures announced today build on actions we have taken to protect the health and safety of Canadians here at home."
A statement said immigration authorities would also not issue new visa applications or process existing applications from foreign nationals intending to travel to an Ebola-affected nation.
The rule did not affect applications for visa renewals of foreign nationals who are already in Canada, the statement said.
Although Canada has had several alerts for possible Ebola cases, the country has yet to record its first confirmed incidence of the disease.
"Our number one priority is to protect Canadians," Canadian health minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement.
It remains to be seen if an inbound travel ban, which is effectively what Canada's action is, will have any impact on disease spread: over the past month health experts, at least in the US, have been unanimously vocal in saying it’s a bad idea that could backfire. Still, it doesn't appear to be so bad to prevent Canada from trying it out. Meanwhile, the CDC's Frieden announced in mid-October that roughly 100 to 150 persons from Ebola infected countries enter the U.S. daily.
The good news is that while the Ebola epidemic continues to rage in west Africa, resulting in nearly 5000 deaths as of yesterday...
... the lack of any adverse new developments in the US in the past week has pushed the topic of the deadly virus away from the front pages. One hopes this isn't merely a brief lull ahead of what is shaping up to be the busiest holiday season for air travel yet.