The Home office has announced that those travelling to the UK could be screened for tuberculosis (TB) before being granted a visa. The new rules will apply to those who wish to spend over six months in the UK and come from a country deemed to have a high incidence of TB – 40 cases per 100,000. The new policy will cover over 60 countries including China, South Africa and Russia.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) have welcomed the announcement from the Home Office and noted that they had been concerned for a number of years that the current policy of chest x-rays at Heathrow and Gatwick is not an cost effective or appropriate way of dealing with TB.
Why have the Home Office made this change?
The policy change has been driven by a review by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) with support from the HPA and Department of Health of the current arrangements for screening migrants from high incidence countries for active pulmonary TB to better protect UK public health and to use public resources more effectively. The scheme, which is employed in the USA, Australia and Canada, has already been piloted in 15 countries by the UKBA and will be introduced in three phases over an 18 month period – beginning in the summer of 2012.