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The BBC's Richard Bilton
"The situation is getting worse by the minute"
 real 56k

Chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore
"We are working to see if we can find the links and connections"
 real 28k

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown
"There is a great deal of understanding and support from the EU"
 real 28k

Farmer & Chairman of the NFU in Devon, Richard Hill
"This is an invisible enemy hitting us hard"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 15:37 GMT
Countryside faces closure
Burning carcasses
The mass burning of carcasses continues
The UK Government has introduced powers to restrict access to the countryside to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

UK slaughter
1,800 cattle
1,600 pigs
3,500 sheep
It comes after five new cases of the disease were confirmed in the UK, bringing the total number of confirmed outbreaks to 17.

Under the proposals, councils have discretionary powers to shut down footpaths and rights of way across individual premises and affected areas in England and Wales.

The Scottish Executive is expected to announce similar measures later in the day.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown told the BBC that the rarely-used powers to shut public footpaths near farms were being invoked because people were ignoring repeated appeals to stay away.

"Many people have responded and I am grateful, but some people are not responding and are insisting on visiting livestock farms," Mr Brown said.

Racecourse signpost
Horse racing is set to be suspended
News of the ban came as Prime Minister Tony Blair prepared to chair an emergency meeting of ministers to discuss the crisis.

European countries are stepping up their own precautions against the disease, with France announcing that it is to destroy 20,000 sheep imported from Britain.

The outbreak is also taking its toll on sporting fixtures across the UK.

Horse racing authorities are ready to cancel all British meetings for the next week in a bid to counter the spread of the outbreak.

Click here to see map of confirmed cases.

The most recent confirmed cases increase the spread of the disease to include Wales for the first time.

Chief veterinary officer Jim Scudamore said four new cases had been found in Anglesey in north Wales, County Durham, Lancashire and Northampton.

The outbreak in Anglesey is at an abattoir which has been under investigation for some time. The animal involved was from Yorkshire.

Agriculture Minister Nick Brown
Nick Brown: "Some people are not responding and are insisting on visiting livestock farms"
The other cases were in Wolsingham, County Durham, involving a sheep bought at Darlington market, at Withnell in Lancashire, with an animal traced back to Hexham market, and a case in Wootton, Northamptonshire, traced to a farm in Devon.

Mr Scudamore told reporters at a briefing in London: "It means that sheep have got into Darlington market that are infected.

"The incubation period fits in with them having the disease when bought but we also have to examine other possible sources as well."

The Ministry of Agriculture later confirmed another case in County Durham.

Ban extended

European Union vets have announced that they are extending the export ban on British livestock, meat and dairy products until 9 March.

Europe takes action
Netherlands - 4,300 animals killed at farms with UK links, livestock markets closed for a week
Belgium - Nine livestock markets banned for a week, all UK animal transporters must be disinfected
France is to destroy 20,000 sheep imported from Britain since the start of the month
Germany - some animals slaughtered, tests ordered on all UK animals
It follows Mr Brown's admission that some UK animals incubating the disease could have been exported to mainland Europe before the crisis emerged.

There are as yet no recorded cases of foot-and-mouth in mainland Europe, but hopes the crisis could be confined to the UK have receded with the confirmation that livestock from a British exporting farm has the disease.

In the Netherlands and Germany, thousands of newly-imported animals have been slaughtered along with local farm animals with which they have come into contact.

In the Netherlands alone, 4,300 sheep, cattle, pigs and deer have been slaughtered at farms known to do business with the UK.

Belgium is insisting on the disinfection of all vehicles arriving from the UK which have been used to transport animals.

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See also:

26 Feb 01 | UK
Animal ban 'will cost jobs'
26 Feb 01 | Scotland
Import ban call over animal outbreak
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