Canada halts visas from countries hit by Ebola

Canada is no longer allowing people from Ebola-stricken nations to enter the country, making it the second government outside of Africa that has closed off its borders because of the virus.

The government announced Friday that is immediately suspending all visas to West African nations where there is "widespread and persistent-intense transmission” of Ebola.

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The decision was announced several days after Australia took a similar step, a move that has come under unusually harsh criticism by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other Western governments.

The United States government has repeatedly declined to halt visas or flights into the country, though nearly 75 lawmakers — mostly Republicans — supported taking the measure.

President Obama reiterated his position during a speech Wednesday.

“We can't hermetically seal ourselves off,” Obama said, adding until Ebola is stopped in West Africa, it will be a threat to Americans “whether or not you adopt a travel ban.”

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan specifically criticized Australia’s policy this week, warning that some governments are coming under pressure “to just follow suit.”

“We have learned from past experience managing many, many outbreaks that travel bans will not stop cases coming to your borders,” she told reporters in her Geneva office. She warned then that some governments have come under pressure “to just follow suit.”

More than a dozen, mostly small African countries — such as Rwanda, Senegal and Namibia — have restricted entry from the continent’s three worst-affected countries.

Others have halted flights and other forms of transportation to avoid spreading the disease, which has infected more than 13,000 people in West Africa.