Travellers from 67 countries including Nigeria, will soon be screened for Tuberculosis (TB) before being granted a visa to enter the UK.
The pre-entry screening is expected to start in phased stages around July 2012.
The new rules were announced by British Immigration Minister, Damian Green on Tuesday, when he stated that the scheme is for migrants coming from countries with high incidence of tuberculosis.
Under the scheme, all migrants coming to the UK for more than six months from the 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.
Nigeria is on the WHO list of countries with high incidence of TB with an estimated 210,000 cases.
When Channels Television contacted the British High Commission in Lagos to confirm this new policy, the Press and Political Secretary of the Commission, Hooman Nouruzi in a signed statement, confirmed that Nigeria has been included in the list of countries where the immigrant will be screened.
In his statement, Mr Nouruzi stated that “under the UK immigration rules the UK Border Agency can require visa applicants to undergo a medical examination for the detection of Tuberculosis (TB).”
“The UK Border Agency currently carries out pre-entry screening for TB for non-EEA migrants who are resident in 15 countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Niger, Kenya, Eritrea, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand and Laos).”
“We are proposing to extend pre-entry screening of applicants to an additional 67 countries which have been identified using World Health Organisation (WHO) data as having a high-incidence of TB, on a phased basis from around July 2012” the statement read.
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.
Nouruzi noted that more extensive and effective checks to detect TB will via pre-entry screening will help save lives by promoting earlier detection and treatment and also allows for early intervention for families.
He also stated it will also help in protecting global public health by helping prevent the transmission of TB in-flight and reduce congestion and waiting times at UK airports for those coming to the UK by phasing out on-entry screening at UK ports.
According to the Who Health Organisation, the list of countries with high incidence of TB includes China, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Nepal, South Africa and many more.
This move according to the foreign office will help save lives and will also save more than £40 million over ten years as it will replace screening at UK airports.
TB is estimated to be at its highest level in the UK for more than 30 years, with 9,000 new cases recorded in 2011, up five per cent from 2010.
Tuberculosis is an airborne infection which constitutes a global public health issue and kills an estimated 1.8 million people worldwide each year.