Australia came under fire on Tuesday from health experts and rights advocates after it issued a blanket ban on visas from West African nations affected by the Ebola outbreak, making it the first rich nation to shut its doors to the region.

Australia has not recorded a case of Ebola despite a number of scares, and conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott has so far resisted repeated requests to send medical personnel to help battle the outbreak on the ground.

The decision to refuse entry for anyone from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, while touted by the government as a necessary safety precaution, was criticised by experts and advocates as politically motivated and shortsighted.

“The government has strong controls for the entry of persons to Australia under our immigration programme from West Africa,” Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told parliament on Monday.

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