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A health-care worker in protective gear is sprayed with disinfectant after he carry the body of a man suspected to have died of Ebola virus on the outskirts of Monrovia on Oct. 21, 2014.ABBAS DULLEH/The Associated Press

Many Africans were quietly pleased when Rwanda announced this week that it would require all American visitors to provide daily reports of any potential symptoms of Ebola.

After months of hearing Americans blaming Africa for the Ebola outbreak, and hearing U.S. politicians demanding a complete ban on travellers from West Africa, the Rwandan action was seen here as a nice role reversal – and a reminder that most African countries have fewer Ebola cases than the United States itself.

(Read The Globe's primer on West Africa's Ebola outbreak)

Rwanda, like 51 other African countries, currently has no Ebola cases. Yet two Rwandan children at a school in New Jersey were ordered to have their temperature taken three times daily because of Ebola fears, sparking a panic among other parents and prompting the Rwandan parents to keep their children at home. The school eventually apologized.

Rwanda quickly overturned its decision on U.S. visitors, apologizing for the inconvenience, but the point had been made.

It would be a mistake, however, to think that the Ebola panic is exclusively a Western phenomenon. Even in Africa, there have been irrational fears and panicky decisions. And if Western governments have been slow to send aid to the Ebola-afflicted countries, many African countries have been equally slow. Neglect, apathy and ignorance are blights that know no borders.

For most African leaders, the Ebola-hit countries are remote concerns, separated by a vast geographic distance. While they might express rhetoric about pan-African solidarity, most African governments are contributing much less to the Ebola battle than the leading Western countries.

While a few nations such as Uganda have sent teams of health workers to the Ebola-afflicted countries, Africa as a whole has contributed less than the tiny country of Cuba, which is sending more than 450 doctors and nurses to West Africa to fight Ebola.

The African Union has been slow to react to the issue. It has sent only about 100 volunteers to the Ebola-hit countries, along with a tiny contribution of $700,000 (U.S.).

One of Africa's biggest economic powers, South Africa, has allocated only $3-million for the Ebola crisis, and most of this was reserved for emergency preparations within South Africa itself. Only a small fraction of this money will be spent on actual assistance to the Ebola-afflicted countries.

The South African government has appealed to private donors to raise $22-million for the Ebola fight. But when a hospital chain donated ambulances worth $400,000 for the Ebola cause, they remained stuck in South Africa because the government was unable to organize transportation to get them to West Africa.

The African Development Bank has been a rare exception to the general apathy of most African leaders. It has promised $220-million for the Ebola campaign.

While the Ebola panic and paranoia in some quarters of the United States has been excessive, Africans have no reason to feel smug about their own reaction. Much of the African response – including an obsession with "suspected" cases of Ebola that usually turn out to be nothing of the sort – has been as xenophobic as the U.S. hysteria.

There were scaremongering headlines in the South African media when a Nigerian visitor died suddenly in Johannesburg this week, and when a 72-year-old man with a fever died in the town of Klerksdorp earlier this month. Neither case should have been linked to Ebola. Nigeria hasn't had any Ebola cases in six weeks, so the Nigerian visitor could not have been carrying the virus, since the incubation period is 21 days. And the 72-year-old man had never traveled outside South Africa in his life, so he could not have been exposed to the virus.

Perhaps the worst example of fearmongering has been the fate of Africa's premier soccer tournament, the Africa Cup of Nations, which was scheduled to be held in Morocco in January. Although soccer players in peak condition are the world's least likely people to spread Ebola, and although visiting soccer fans would be screened for illnesses as other visitors are already routinely screened, no African country has been willing to host the soccer tournament because of the rampant Ebola fears.

When Morocco asked for a postponement in the tournament because of its own Ebola worries, other leading African countries were swift to declare that they did not want the tournament either.

Football administrators suggested that Ghana or South Africa could be logical replacement hosts for the tournament, but this sparked an enormous backlash in both countries. Ghana's leaders soon backed away from the idea. Ghana's media were filled with headlines claiming that the tournament would "open the floodgates for Ebola."

In South Africa, hundreds of people went on Facebook to express their opposition to the idea of hosting the tournament. Many seemed convinced that the tournament would be a serious Ebola risk.

"This nation has every right to demand absolute protection from our football administrators and the government," thundered an editorial in one South African newspaper, The Times, failing to mention that the world's leading scientists and health experts have rejected the claim that travel bans would be an effective tool against Ebola.

In response to the pressure, the South African government quickly ruled out any notion of hosting the tournament. And so Africa's leading sporting event is in limbo, in danger of cancellation.