People entering the UK from countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis will have to be tested for the disease before being granted a visa, Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced.

The new rules are a response to the fact that the disease is at its highest level in the UK for more than 30 years. There were 9,000 new cases last year, up 5% from the previous year and it is thought that migrants coming from countries with a high incidence of TB are to blame.

Green said that the new measures will be brought in over 18 months in three stages and will help save lives and also save more than £40 million over 10 years. It is estimated that TB kills 1.8 million people a year around the world.

People from 67 countries will be required to be tested before they arrive in the UK. Infectious TB sufferers and those diagnosed with active TB will be denied entry.

This pre-entry screening will replace screening at UK airports after a pilot scheme in 15 countries found 300 active cases among 400,000 migrants.
‘Tuberculosis is currently at its highest level in the UK for 30 years and it’s essential that we take action to tackle its continued rise. Pre-entry screening, followed by treatment where necessary, will help to prevent the risk of TB in the UK and will also save lives,’ explained Green.

‘Removing screening facilities at airports will save the taxpayer £25 million over ten years and further NHS savings will be made by preventing the importation and spread of TB in the UK,’ he added.
Under the scheme, all migrants coming to the UK for more than six months from 67 countries identified as having a high incidence of TB by the World Health Organisation will need to be screened for the airborne infection before being granted a visa.

The costs of screening and subsequent treatment will be met by those people applying to come into the UK, the Home Office said.

Many of the countries with high levels of TB are in Africa but those on the WHO list also include China, India, Morocco, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, Peru, Romania, Malaysia, Bosnia, Brazil and Bulgaria.