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Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 17:21 GMT
Britain 'must avoid disease mistakes'
Lorries are being disinfected to try and prevent the spread of the disease
Precautions: Concern over mistakes of the past
Agriculture Minister Nick Brown has said the UK must learn from past mistakes and not lift the general restrictions on livestock movement before the foot-and-mouth outbreak is beaten.

I'm very conscious that in 1967...they believed they had it under control, relaxed controls and then it broke out again

Nick Brown
As the number of outbreaks across the UK rose to 51 on Saturday, Mr Brown said lessons must be learned from the 1967 crisis when restrictions were lifted too early and the disease returned.

Special licences are already being prepared to allow healthy animals to start being moved from disease-free areas to abattoirs on Tuesday.

But the minister said there was little risk of these animals spreading the disease during transportation.

He warned stringent checks would be in place to ensure infected animals did not come into contact with healthy ones.

On Saturday, new cases were confirmed in Cornwall, Scotland, Durham, Cumbria, Lancashire, Oxfordshire, Tyne and Wear and Herefordshire.

Daily tally of foot and mouth cases

Chief Veterinary Officer Jim Scudamore said most of the cases were in sheep or linked to sheep and the movement of animals.

He said the number of cases caused by airborne infection was pretty low and usually in pigs.

About 45,000 animals have now been slaughtered as a result of the outbreaks, including 6,300 animals which may have come into contact with infected livestock.

Mr Brown said the government was investigating how and why the disease entered the country and whether the control and enforcement procedures were adequate.

Emergency measures
Horse racing suspended
Ireland v Wales rugby postponed
National parks closed
Access to Scottish Mountains suspended
Countryside Alliance march postponed
Reservoir sites in Wales closed to public
Some zoos closed
Richmond Park, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Home Park remain closed for a further week
Mr Brown insisted the disease must have been introduced illegally into Britain.

He said the pattern of trade across the UK and the role of markets in the spread of the disease was also under scrutiny.

But he added: "I'm very conscious that in 1967, in that outbreak they believed they had it under control, relaxed controls and then it broke out again."

"That is a mistake we cannot afford to make."

Efforts to control the spread of the virus have also led to further restrictions on the movement of people in the countryside.

Blunts Farm in Wootton, Northamptonshire
The burning of carcasses continues
Snowdonia National Park has been closed and walkers who break the entry ban face a 5,000 fine.

The Forestry Commission has closed 2.4 million acres of forests and woodland, including the New Forest in Hampshire.

Mr Brown backed calls from farmers' unions for people to avoid travelling around the countryside and visiting livestock farms - including politicians.

But the minister would not be drawn on whether the disease would have an impact on the date of the general election.

Mr Brown said he would answer questions relating to foot-and-mouth at Agriculture Questions in Parliament on Thursday.

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See also:

03 Mar 01 | UK
Meat prices set to rise
02 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
NZ's foot and mouth 'witch-hunt'
02 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Cold spell link to foot-and-mouth
02 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Blair offers hope to farmers
02 Mar 01 | Other Sports
Cheltenham hopes rise
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