Foreign travellers from TB-ridden nations will be screened for killer disease before being granted a British visa
By Sara Malm
PUBLISHED: 12:02, 22 May 2012 | UPDATED: 13:15, 22 May 2012
Foreign travellers entering the UK from countries with high incidence of tuberculosis will have to go through a screening for the disease before being granted a visa.
The new rules were announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green who 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 ten years.
TB is at its highest level in the UK for more than 30 years, with 9,000 new cases last year alone, up five per cent from 2010.
Immigrants from high risk countries looking to apply for a visa in the UK will have to be screened for tuberculosis prior to entering the country
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.
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Mr Green said: 'Tuberculosis is currently at its highest level in the UK for 30 years and itís essential that we take action to tackle its continued rise.
ALINA SARAG'S TB BATTLE
A coroner's inquest into the medical treatment of 15-year-old Alina Sarag who died of TB last year revealed that she could have been saved had doctors only diagnosed her with the killer disease.
Despite having been treated for TB before none of the five doctors she visited checked her for the disease.
Alina fell ill after returning from a family holiday in Pakistan in July 2010.
She was referred to Heartland Hospital on August 26 but was given an all-clear.
After two more hospital stays she visited Birmingham Children's Hospital in October that year where doctors dismissed her condition as a 'psychological issue'.
An assessment was carried out but could not be completed as Alina was in too much pain.
On January 6 Alina had breathing difficulties. Her father called the emergency services but Alina later died of cardiac arrest.
'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 ten years and further NHS savings will be made by preventing the importation and spread of TB in the UK.'
The news comes only days after a review into the care of a Birmingham teen who died from TB last year. 15-year-old Alina Sarag died after doctors dismissed her TB as 'lovesicknessí.
She died from cardiac arrest in January 2011 after visiting her GP and four hospitals. Despite having been treated for tuberculosis in the past her doctor would not test for it.
Her distraught parents made over 50 phone calls to the family doctor after Alinaís health deteriorated so badly she had to be carried and could only eat baby food.
The deadly illness 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. Click here for a full list of countries with high incidence.
The costs of screening and subsequent treatment will be met by those people applying to come into the UK, the Home Office said.
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