3yo banned from Italy kindergarten over Ebola fears
The girl’s parents have been forced to keep the child at home for a week after other parents threatened to boycott the public school in the town of Fiumicino, near Rome, despite the child feeling fine and showing no symptoms.
“Uganda is Ebola-free, and anyway I had my kids tested to make sure they are in good health," the child's father said to In Terris online newspaper. "There was no actual reason to imagine a risk…the only explanation is we were coming from Africa. What happened is pure madness."
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Italy’s health minister, who expressed solidarity with the girl’s family, has called the situation “alarming” and condemned parents for an “absolutely unjustified” reaction.
In her statement, Beatrice Lorenzin stressed that “Uganda is not a country affected by Ebola and is very far from the area in West Africa struck by Ebola.” In fact, Uganda is nearly 5,000km (almost 3,000 miles) from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three most severely Ebola-hit countries.
The mayor of Fiumicino has urged alarmed parents to not transform fears into discrimination.
“I have spoken to the director of the Isola Sacra school, who reassured me that having carried out the necessary checks, understanding the protocols at international airports, the school of the nursery school on Via Coni Zugna will remain open for all children, including the little girl who has returned from her travels in Uganda,” Esterino Montino posted on Facebook.
The Local tried to reach the school for comments, but a spokesperson was not available at the time.
The Italian school is not the first in the world to give into Ebola hysteria. At the beginning of October, a nine-year-old boy from Sierra Leone had his placement at a school in Stockport, UK, canceled.
So far at least 4,877 people have died and at least 9,936 cases of the disease had been recorded as of October 19, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. However, the true toll could be three times as much, it warned.