Foreign travellers coming to the UK from countries with a high incidence of tuberculosis will have to be screened for the potentially fatal infection before being granted a visa under new rules, the Immigration Minister said today.
Damian Green said the scheme for migrants coming from countries including China, India, Morocco, Nepal, and South Africa, will help save lives and will also save more than £40 million over 10 years.
TB is at its highest level in the UK for more than 30 years, with 9,000 new cases last year alone, up 5% from 2010, he added.
Under the new visa rules, which will be brought in in three stages over 18 months, infectious TB sufferers and those diagnosed with active TB will be denied entry to the UK.
The pre-entry screening will replace screening at UK airports after a pilot scheme in 15 countries found 300 active cases among 400,000 migrants.
Mr Green said: "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."
He added: "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."
TB kills 1.8 million people worldwide each year.
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.