Those traveling from Cambodia to Britain and intending to stay more than six months will now be tested for tuberculosis before beginning their journey, British newspapers reported Friday.
Quoting a British Home Office spokeswoman, the Daily Mail newspaper said Friday that the new rule will apply to travelers from Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Tanzania and Sudan.
Currently, travelers from the six countries are tested for TB on arrival in Great Britain, the newspaper said.
It is still unclear whether the rule applies to all travelers coming from Cambodia or if it pertains to Cambodian citizens or residents.
British Ambassador David Reader said Sunday that the TB screenings should only effect “people in special circumstances.” He was unable to say whom the screenings will specifically target.
TB testing at the source country is currently required for Cambodians migrating to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, said Trapap Jayavanth, World Health Organization consultant to the National Tuberculosis Program.
“If they are diagnosed,” Trapap Jayavanth said, “they will be treated and able to go [to their destination].”
Andy Siegman, resources management officer at the International Organization for Migration mission in Cambodia, called the shift in British policy “fairly normal.”
“Maybe the UK is just catching up with other developed countries,” said Siegman, whose organization provides health screening for Cambodian emigrants.
Tuberculosis, common in developing countries, is a bacterial disease that is spread when a person sneezes, spits or coughs. Untreated, the disease bores holes in the lungs and is fatal.
The disease continue to plague Cambodia despite a strong effort to eradicate it.
Cambodia is ranked 23 by the WHO among countries with a high volume of TB, according to the organization’s 2005 Global Tuberculosis Control Report. Nearly 72,000 cases were reported in Cambodia in 2003, killing 95 out of 100,000 Cambodians that year, the report said.