Rwanda Starts Testing American Visitors for Ebola

Hey, West: Not everyone in Africa has Ebola. In fact, most Africans are scared you'll give it to them

Oct 21, 2014 at 2:57 PM ET

Rwanda is not cool with the fact that the U.S. and Spain have Ebola. Not cool at all. The African nation about 2,600 miles east of Liberia hasn’t had a reported case of Ebola yet. Perhaps that spotless record is why its government announced Tuesday that it will screen all Americans and Spaniards trying to enter the nation. That’s right, some Africans are saying you’re too much of an infection risk to enter their country.

Now American and Spanish visitors will have to fill out a questionnaire and report their medical condition for the first 21 days of their visit in Rwanda. This big “screw you” to the U.S. and Spain comes after a ridiculous mix-up in New Jersey this week where an elementary school required that its nurse monitor the health of two Rwandan students for 21 days.

The nurse at Howard Yocum Elementary School in Maple Shade, New Jersey, wrote a note to all parents saying her office would monitor the kids’ temperatures three times a day for three weeks, scaring the parents half to death that their kids would get Ebola from a couple of Rwandans. The parents of the Rwandan children then volunteered to keep the kids at home for 21 days.

But since Rwanda has not yet been affected by Ebola, it makes no sense to keep the kids in quarantine at home. The school district issued an apology on Monday for its apparent act of racism (or high ignorance, take your pick), saying its schools had “become the unwitting ‘face’ of our nation’s fears with regard to pressing health concerns.” Both the U.S. and Spain have reported multiple cases of Ebola in the last few weeks—unlike, say, Rwanda.

The Rwandan announcement was posted Tuesday to the website of the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda:

“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.”

This is not the first time African students have been stigmatized because of Americans’ limited understanding of Ebola’s spread in different African countries. Vocativ reported a week ago that a Nigerian student was rejected entry to Navarro College in Texas because the college was not accepting students from countries with confirmed Ebola cases. Nigeria was declared Ebola-free Monday by the World Health Organization, which is more than the U.S. can say for itself.