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The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"Foot-and-mouth is still appearing in new areas"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jane Hughes
reports from Carlisle
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Monday, 9 April, 2001, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Plans to 'stamp' on fresh outbreaks
The daily increase in the number of cases is slowing
Nick Brown says no one can afford to be complacent
New outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease in previously unaffected areas are to be "stamped on" as a matter of urgency, insists Agriculture Minister Nick Brown.

In a continuing bid to halt the spread of the disease, more troops are being sent to the Scottish borders to help deal with outbreaks of foot-and-mouth in areas previously clear of the virus.

Meanwhile, a survey carried out by NFU Countryside suggests that almost two-thirds of people planning an Easter trip to rural areas have cancelled because of foot-and-mouth.

There have been 1,141 cases throughout the UK in the eight-week crisis and there are fears the disease is spreading after the new outbreaks in Scotland and Wales at the weekend.

Crisis in the UK
Cases on Monday: 7
Total confirmed cases: 1,141
440,000 animals due for slaughter
764,000 animals have been slaughtered
498,000 carcasses destroyed

Emphasising the need to stamp on new outbreaks in previously disease-free areas, Mr Brown said no one could afford to be complacent, despite optimism that the increase in the daily tally of cases was slowing.

He said: "The most important response is to stamp on those new outbreaks at once.

"We have to remain vigilant until we have this terrible disease outbreak brought to a firm conclusion."

The extra troops being sent to the Scottish borders, where outbreaks were discovered in previously "clean" areas near Jedburgh and Hownam, will supervise preparations for the cull which will now take place.

Disease experts could provide a clear picture about how foot-and-mouth will develop by the end of the week.

Calls for vaccination against the disease have not yet been supported by the minister, who warned it could mean the outbreak would last longer.

"The fact that we are pursuing a present strategy remorselessly doesn't mean we are not considering the alternatives," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We have considered it very carefully but there are downsides to using a vaccination policy.

"The most important response is to stamp on those new outbreaks at once."

Cancellations

A Ministry spokesman said officials were also making it a priority to discover how cases had occurred in new areas.

NFU Countryside says its survey shows how hard tourism is being hit by the crisis.

Nick Brown
Nick Brown: Sporadic outbreaks expected
With school holidays already under way and Easter Monday only a week away, any let up in the disease would come too late for many guest-house owners and others who rely on income from tourism.

Some 66% of the 500 people questioned on the website of NFU Countryside - which is affiliated to the National Farmers' Union - indicated that they were planning on taking a countryside break over Easter.

But of those, 65% had cancelled their plans because of foot-and-mouth.

This is despite intensified efforts from the prime minister and other members of the government to convince the public rural Britain is "open for business".

David Hellard from NFU Countryside said: "Our findings really bring home just how hard the industry is going to be hit over what is traditionally an extremely busy holiday period."

Welsh fears

The government remains adamant that the surest way to eradicate the disease is the mass slaughter of infected animals within 24 hours and livestock on neighbouring land within 48 hours.

Sheep in Cumbria
The disease is still spreading
There are also signs that foot-and-mouth is moving south in Wales, with the first outbreak the south Wales valleys.

Cases in Wales had been restricted to the island of Anglesey in the north, parts of mid Wales and along the borders.

But more cases have been discovered at Monmouthshire in south east Wales and on Saturday one was confirmed at Caerwent - just a few miles from Newport.

More resources are being channelled into dealing with the disposal of thousands of slaughtered animals across the UK.

Further burial pits are being dug and in Cumbria engineers are constructing a pyre which can burn continuously to help clear the backlog of carcasses.

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