UK immigration to require tuberculosis screening for some UK visa applicants

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The UK Home Office announced that immigrants from countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis (TB) will soon be required to be screened for the disease before being approved for a UK visa.

UK Immigration minister Damian Green confirmed the new measures on 21 May saying: "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." Ministers claimed that testing applicants prior to arrival in the UK will save the country more than £40 million over the next ten years.

Under the new rules, immigrants from 67 countries with high TB rates who wish to enter the UK for more than six months will be required to undergo pre-entry screening, followed by treatment if required. The high TB incidence countries were identified by the World Health Organisation and include China, India, Morocco, Nepal and South Africa.

Green said that the costs of screening and possible subsequent treatment will be paid for by the visa applicants. The scheme will be implemented in three phases over an 18 month period.

"Pre-entry screening, followed by treatment where necessary, will help to prevent the risk of TB in the UK and will also save lives," said Green. "Removing screening facilities at airports will save the taxpayer £25 million over 10 years and further NHS savings will be made by preventing the importation and spread of TB in the UK."

According to the UK Home Office, there has been a 5 percent increase in cases of TB in the country in 2011, with an additional 9,000 cases compared with 2010. They claim that research shows that those born outside of the UK account for three quarters of all new cases of TB diagnosed in the UK.

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