Latest Updates / Canada: No Visas for People From Ebola-hit Countries

U.S. Ambassador Power self-monitoring for Ebola after trip to West Africa; Brazil begins screening people from Ebola-affected countries; WHO issues new guidance on Ebola protective gear; WHO says 2 suspected Ebola cases in Mali, 57 contacts sought.

AP

Click here for Thursday's updates on the Ebola outbreak

Latest updates:

7:52 P.M. Spanish woman cured of Ebola moves to normal room

Hospital officials say a Spanish nursing assistant who recovered from an Ebola virus infection has left the isolation unit where she was being monitored and moved to a normal room.

Teresa Romero tested positive on Oct 6, but was declared cured of the virus 15 days later. She was the first known person to contract the disease outside of West Africa in the latest outbreak. Madrid's Carlos III hospital said Saturday that Romero, 44, was now being attended by hospital staff that no longer needed to wear protective outfits.

Romero treated two Spanish missionaries who died of Ebola in August and September after they were flown back to Spain from West Africa. Romero still needs to recover fully from the after-effects of the serious infection. (AP)

6:07 P.M. Ebola-free Texas nurse, pet dog reunited after long quarantine

The Dallas nurse treated for Ebola had an emotional reunion on Saturday with her "best friend", a King Charles Spaniel, after the pet spent the last three weeks in quarantine being monitored for the deadly virus. The dog named Bentley showered Nina Pham with licks at a handover ceremony near the Dallas shelter where he had been kept in isolation and cared for by kennel workers in protective suits.

Pham, 26, became the first person in the United States to be infected with Ebola after treating an infected man. She was released from a National Institutes of Health hospital in Maryland on Oct. 24 after being declared free of the virus.  "After I was diagnosed with Ebola, I didn't know what would happen to Bentley and if he would have the virus," Pham told reporters. "I was frightened that I might not know what happened to my best friend."

Bentley has been under the spotlight after officials in Madrid put down the dog of a Spanish nurse who contacted Ebola while also caring for a patient.

Bentley became a minor Internet star as picture and videos of him running around his isolation call and playing with workers in space suits were released by the city - after they had first been shown to Pham. (Reuters)

7:55 A.M. Canada suspends visa applications from Ebola-hit countries
Canada's Conservative government said it is suspending visa applications for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread and persistent-intense transmission" of the Ebola virus.

With Friday's decision, Canada joined Australia in suspending entry visas for people from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa in an attempt to keep the deadly disease away.

Canada has not yet had a case of Ebola. Canadians, including health-care workers, in West Africa will be permitted to travel back to Canada, the government said.
The countries most severely hit by the worst Ebola outbreak ever are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Canada receives very few travelers from those countries, which have no direct flights to Canada.

A similar move by Australia was slammed Wednesday by Dr. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director general, who said closing borders won't stop spread of the Ebola virus. 

Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement the "number one priority is to protect Canadians." Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Alexander said the government would act in the "best interests of Canadians." Kevin Menard, a spokesman for Alexander, said the move is similar to but a bit less restrictive than the one the Australian government announced this week. He later called it "considerably different." "We have instituted a pause, but there is room for discretion and if we can be assured that someone is not infected with Ebola," Menard said in an email after declining to comment on the phone. He said the government was "doing anything we can to keep Ebola from coming to Canada."

October 31:

6:00 P.M. Judge enforces Ebola isolation of defiant Maine nurse

A judge on Friday ordered an American nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for the disease to obey a state-imposed quarantine after she defied Maine officials and went for a bike ride. The temporary order from Charles LaVerdiere, chief judge of the Maine District Court, turned up the heat in the confrontation over the quarantine between the New England state's officials and nurse Kaci Hickox.

LaVerdiere instructed Hickox to submit to "direct active monitoring" and "not to be present in public places" like shopping centers, movie theaters or workplaces, except to receive necessary healthcare.

Hickox, 33, has tested negative for Ebola after returning from working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, one of the three impoverished West African countries at the heart of the outbreak that has killed about 5,000 people there. Saying she is completely healthy, she has challenged quarantines imposed on her in both New Jersey, where she arrived, and her home state of Maine. (Reuters)

5:19 P.M. Brazil begins screening arrivals from Ebola-hit areas

Brazil has begun screening passengers arriving from the Ebola-affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.Health Minister Arthur Chioro says passengers from those countries will have their temperatures taken and asked to answer a questionnaire that will help authorities determine if they have the Ebola virus or not.

The screening process went into effect on Friday in Sao Paulo's Guarulhos International Airport and will be in place in five other airports by the end of November. He said 529 passengers from the three countries arrived so far this year at the Sao Paulo airport, which handles close to 40,000 arriving passengers every day. He said no Ebola cases have been confirmed in Brazil. (AP)

5:02 P.M. US ambassador says she's self-monitoring for Ebola

The U.S. ambassador, who has just returned from a visit to the countries worst-affected by Ebola, says she is self-monitoring for the virus and that federal guidelines are sufficient.

Samantha Power on Friday praised the United States response to the outbreak in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and called on other countries to do more.

Power, who arrived late Thursday at a New York City airport, has been openly critical of the quarantine restrictions some U.S. states have struggled to put in place as fear spreads over the worst outbreak of the disease in history.

She tweeted a photo of herself having her temperature taken at the airport on arrival. (AP)

Back from W Africa. Part of standard CDC protocol—screened @ airport on arrival; will monitor/report health for 21day pic.twitter.com/HUkDYTVj0M

 

3:02 P.M. EU delays visit to N. Korea due to Ebola restrictions

A visit to North Korea by experts from the European Union's diplomatic corps has been postponed after the reclusive Asian country introduced Ebola-related travel restrictions, a spokeswoman said Friday.

North Korea has reportedly instituted quarantines for foreign travellers due to fears that the deadly haemorrhagic fever, which has killed thousands in West Africa, could spread.

A team from the European External Action Service (EEAS) had been due to visit Pyongyang next week as part of an EU-North Korea political dialogue that has existed since 1998, EEAS spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

"Due to the new entry in force of restrictions adopted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in relation to Ebola crisis, the EEAS mission to DPRK has been postponed to a future date that still needs to be determined," she added.

North Korea is said to be keen on stepped-up diplomatic contacts. The head of the German-Korean parliamentary group, Hartmut Koschyk, said on Thursday after a visit to the country that Pyongyang is ready for "an open dialogue." (DPA)

1:59 P.M. WHO says 2 suspected Ebola cases in Mali, 57 contacts sought

Two people are suspected of having Ebola after coming into contact with a two-year-old girl who died of the disease in Mali last week, according to data from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

An epidemiological presentation by both agencies, given on Thursday and seen by Reuters on Friday, breaks down the girl's journey from Guinea to Mali with her grandmother, five-year-old sister and her uncle, and shows she may have had contact with 141 people in all, 57 of them yet to be identified.

One of the 84 contacts who have so far been traced is suspected of having Ebola but has not been tested, the presentation shows. Another four suspected cases have been tested. Three showed negative results, with one result yet to come in. (Reuters)

12:39 P.M. WHO issues new guidance on Ebola protective gear

The U.N. health agency is updating its guidelines for health workers dealing with the deadly Ebola virus, recommending tougher measures such as doubling up on gloves and making sure the mouth, nose and eyes are better protected from contaminated droplets and fluids.

But the World Health Agency says the choice of equipment is much less important than the way it's used. Dr. Edward Kelley, director of service delivery and safety for WHO, told reporters Friday the updated guidelines call for wearing one of two materials for gowns or coveralls and "an absolute recommendation for double-gloving that didn't exist before."

Doctors Without Borders already recommends some of its staff in high-risk jobs, like cleaning Ebola treatment centers or handling bodies of Ebola victims, wear two or three pairs of gloves. (AP)