Rwanda is now screening all U.S. visitors for Ebola

One of these countries is Ebola-free, and it isn't the United States ...

Published October 21, 2014 3:42PM (EDT)

(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)
(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba, File)

This is either some truly skillful trolling or just fantastically good timing: Rwanda is now screening all visitors who have traveled within the United States or Spain in the past 22 days before they'll be allowed into the country.

Here's the notice that the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda posted to its website:

On October 19, the Rwandan Ministry of Health introduced new Ebola Virus Disease screening requirements. Visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the last 22 days are now required to report their medical condition—regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms of Ebola—by telephone by dialing 114 between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. for the duration of their visit to Rwanda (if less than 21 days), or for the first 21 days of their visit to Rwanda. Rwandan authorities continue to deny entry to visitors who traveled to Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, or Sierra Leone within the past 22 days.

"Please note neither the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it," the embassy had previously warned.

The new safety standards happened to have come after a New Jersey town flipped out over the arrival of two elementary school students from Rwanda, eventually pressuring them to remain home for 21 days until everyone could be completely sure they didn't have Ebola. As one concerned parent put it: "Anybody from that area should just stay there until all this stuff is resolved."

The irony in that -- aside from the fact that Rwanda is in east Africa and 2,600 miles away from the nearest affected West African nation -- is that the country has had zero cases of Ebola. In contrast, three cases have been diagnosed in the U.S., and hundreds of potential contacts are being monitored for symptoms. So, if we're going to talk about being extremely prudent in preventing the spread of the disease, Rwanda has a lot more cause to fear people entering the country from the U.S. than the other way around.

By Lindsay Abrams

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Ebola Ebola Panic Public Health Rwanda