From Prasun Sonwalkar
London: Indian citizens besides those from 66 other “high risk” countries seeking to enter Britain for over six months will need to be screened for tuberculosis before they are granted a visa, the Home Office here announced today.
The costs of screening and subsequent treatment will be met by those people applying to come into the UK, the Home Office said, and added that the screening is specifically targeted at migrants from India and 66 other “high risk” countries.
The tuberculosis screening programme will be rolled out in the countries over the next 18 months from July.
Currently there are screening facilities at British airports, which will be removed under the programme.
The measure is expected to save 40 million pounds.
Recent figures indicate that there were over 9,000 new cases of tuberculosis in the UK in 2011, a five per cent increase on 2010.
“The programme is targeted at migrants after research showed non-UK born people accounted for three quarters of all new TB cases diagnosed – 20 times higher than in the UK born population”, the Home Office said.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “Tuberculosis is currently at its highest level in the UK for 30 years.
“Pre-entry screening, followed by treatment where necessary, will help to prevent the risk of TB in the UK and will also save lives”, he said.
The Minister added, “Removing screening facilities at airports will save the taxpayer 25 million pounds over ten years and further National Health Service (NHS) savings will be made by preventing the importation and spread of TB in the UK”.
The UK Border Agency will build on existing pre-screening undertaken by international partners including the USA, Canada and Australia, the Home Office said.