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The BBC's Janet Barrie in Brussels
"Nobody's taking any chances at all hence the ban on livestock"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 7 March, 2001, 07:01 GMT
EU tightens animal controls
French fireman sprays decontamination chemicals onto truck on France-Luxemburg border
Vehicles are being disinfected as they cross Europe's borders
The European Union has banned livestock markets for two weeks to try to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

The EU's veterinary panel also extended a ban on the export of meat, livestock and milk products from the UK, where the outbreak originated.

The UK embargo, which was due to expire on Friday, has been extended to 27 March, and the EU will require that the tyres of all vehicles arriving from the UK be disinfected.


We must remain extremely cautious. The situation could change hour by hour

Marc Savey of French food safety agency AFSSA
The UK remains the only country with confirmed cases of the highly contagious livestock disease - now up to at least 76.

BBC Brussels correspondent Justin Webb described the EU ban on livestock movements as "drastic", pointing out that it applied to countries that seem to be free of foot-and-mouth disease.

Under the ban, animals may be moved from farms to slaughterhouses, but other gatherings of pigs, cattle and sheep are forbidden.

Animal cull in France
Tens of thousands of animal carcasses are being burned
British officials told the vets' two-day meeting that they believe the foot-and-mouth outbreak could soon peak and then start to decline.

"The UK veterinarians said they expect a peak of this outbreak today, tomorrow or sometime this week," a European Commission spokesman said on Tuesday.

France, which has banned the export of animals at risk of the disease, says no confirmed cases have been found, although some animals imported from the UK had been exposed to the virus and had antibodies in their blood. Marc Savey of the food safety agency AFSSA, told French television on Tuesday: "We must remain extremely cautious. The situation could change hour by hour."

Euro reaction
EU-wide ban on animal markets
Tight restrictions on live animal transport
Ban on British exports extended to March 27
All vehicles from Britain to be disinfected
As the alert continues, Paris Zoo has closed its doors to visitors indefinitely, and an Italian circus visiting the north-eastern French town of Nancy has been left stranded there.

The Florileggio circus animals - including camels, elephants, bison and kangaroos - will have to stay in Nancy for at least another week.

In the Netherlands, more than 700 sheep, cattle and pigs have been killed in an extension of a cull which has already seen about 4,300 animals slaughtered.

Japan and South Korea have announced restrictions on the import of some meat products and animals from a number of European countries, including Belgium and France.

France-Luxembourg border
Italians demanded that borders be closed to livestock
More sporting events have fallen victim to the outbreak.

A major athletics event, the IAAF World Cross Country championships, has been moved from the Irish Republic to Belgium, and this weekend's football fixtures in the republic have also been called off.

Doubts also remain over the Six Nations championship match between France and Wales, due to take place in Paris on 17 March.

Horse-racing and showjumping events have already been cancelled in France.

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See also:

01 Mar 01 | Europe
Outbreak threatens Muslim holiday
01 Mar 01 | Europe
Ireland battens down the hatches
01 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia's livestock fear
28 Feb 01 | Europe
Germany's green revolution
06 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
World Cross Country switched to Brussels
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