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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Foot-and-mouth disease timeline
One of the animal slaughter fires at Meigh in Armagh
One of the animal slaughter fires at Meigh in Armagh
The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has spread to every part of the UK in the past month, resulting in thousands of animals being slaughtered and incinerated.

19 February: An inspection at Cheale Meats abattoir, in Essex, shows "highly suspicious" signs of foot-and-mouth disease in 27 pigs.

20 February: The Irish Government bans imports of animal and dairy products from the UK, including Northern Ireland.

Restrictions are to be placed on some Northern Ireland pig farms which had supplied animals to the Essex farm.

Irish Government announces police will patrol the border, between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, to enforce the directive.

21 February: The UK Government bans all exports of live animals, meat and dairy products as another suspected case is found.

The European Commission announces a ban on exports of all live animals and animal products from Britain until 1 March.

22 February: A third case of foot-and-mouth is confirmed at a cattle farm at Great Warley, near Brentwood in Essex.

23 February: The disease is confirmed at a farm in Northumberland, which investigators believe may be the initial source of the outbreak.

Fears mount that a cow which died in mid-Ulster had been infected with foot-and-mouth. An eight-kilometre exclusion zone is placed around the farm.

However, Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers said it was 99% certain the animal did not have the disease, and thought to be malignant catarrh.

24 February: The mass slaughter of thousands of pigs and cattle on eight farms across England begins in a bid to wipe out the disease.

It emerges a suspected case is under investigation at an abattoir at Gaerwen, near Menai Bridge in Anglesey, north Wales.

26 February: The Department of Agriculture announces a range of new controls at ports and airports in Northern Ireland to keep foot-and-mouth disease out of the province.

More than 100 farms in the province are under movement restrictions as department vets examine animals recently imported from Britain.

27 February: The European Union announces an extension of the ban on Britain's meat and dairy exports to 9 March.

The number of confirmed outbreaks in England and Wales jumps to 16.

UK Agriculture Minister Nick Brown announces the halt on livestock movements will be extended for at least another two weeks.

28 February: Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers orders the slaughter of sheep at a farm in Meigh, south Armagh, because of a suspected case of foot-and-mouth disease.

The sheep had been imported into Northern Ireland from a market near Carlisle.

Mrs Rodgers said the animal carcasses would be incinerated after blood tests had been carried out.

An exclusion zone is set up around the farm.

A few hours later she says she now believes the disease is in the province.

Across the UK, the total number of animals which have either been slaughtered or are due to be culled is thought to stand at 11,000.

1 March: There are fears the foot-and-mouth outbreak could be on the brink of an epidemic after it emerged the disease may have spread to the Irish Republic.

Almost 250 sheep suspected of being infected were thought to have been taken to an abattoir in Roscommon from a farm in Northern Ireland.

Confirmed cases in England and Wales reach 27.

Later the Department of Agriculture confirms the sheep in south Armagh did have foot-and-mouth - the first confirmed outbreak in the province.

Police are asked to investigate the importatation of the sheep.

A 10-kilometre surveillance zone and an inner three-kilometre protection zone is placed around the farm.

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, says it is vital to establish how the disease got into the province.

2 March: Mrs Rodgers fears more infected sheep may have been imported into Northern Ireland.

An emergency meeting of the Stormont executive is held to discuss the crisis

Brid Rodgers criticises the "the irresponsible actions of the few" who had put the local farming industry at risk.

Police seal off a farm in County Louth as the Irish Republic maintains a full foot-and-mouth alert.

A second site, the Kildare Chilling Company meat factory, is then sealed off.

A few hours later, Irish police, confirm that three farms are sealed off in Castleblaney, County Monaghan.

Irish Premier Bertie Ahern tells the Irish parliament that more than 1,000 police and soldiers are on duty at border crossings, ports and airports.

Airports tell all passengers to wash clothes and bath as soon as possible after arriving here from Britain and to avoid walking on farmland.

Belfast laboratories stop taking carcasses for disease diagnosis and private vets are advised of restrictions to access.

NIE issues instructions to staff and contractors - only essential work will proceed; movement of staff minimised.

Presbyterian Church is urges parishioners to be responsible and take care not to risk spreading the virus.

Sporting events are cancelled and disruption caused to various walks of life.

3 March:The Stormont interdepartmental committee set up to lead the fight against the spread of foot-and-mouth meets for the first time.

Brid Rodgers criticises the Belfast Giants ice hockey team for their determination to play two weekend league matches, when most other sporting fixtures, markets and outdoor events and even some church services are cancelled as a precaution.

Irish Defence Minister Michael Smyth criticises Northern Ireland border controls as not being rigorous enough to prevent foot-and-mouth spreading into the Irish Republic.

He calls for a greater Royal Ulster Constabulary presence at the border.

The slaughter of animals in the one-kilometre exclusion zone around the Meigh farm continues.

Animals are also slaughtered on a Banbridge, County Down, farm believed to have been visited by the haulier who brought sheep to Meigh.

4 March: A cattle herd neighbouring the Meigh farm is slaughtered as a precaution, bringing the total number of animals destroyed in the province to 1,400.

Sunday masses at Catholic churches in the Meigh exclusion zone are cancelled.

The Orange Order says it has suspended its protest over the Drumcree pared in Portadown to help stop the spread of foot-and-mouth.

6 March: Northern Ireland executive imposes further restrictions on events and issues more public guidelines aimed at stopping the spread of the disease.

7 March: The agriculture minister announces further restrictions on livestock. All farmers must have licences for livestock and carcasses being moved off farms.

Mrs Rodgers meets farmers' leaders, bankers and Irish Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh to discuss problems caused by the restrictions.

She tells farmers affected by the restrictions they will have to hold out for another few weeks.

Duke of York cancels visit to Northern Ireland as precaution.

12 March: News of a second "hot suspect" sheep showing signs of the disease, is given by Mrs Rodgers at Stormont.

Restrictions are put in place at the farm in Augher, County Tyrone, from where the sheep was taken to an abattoir in Dungannon.

In County Louth, just across the border from the confirmed Meigh outbreak of the disease in south Armagh, a flock of sheep is slaughtered as a precaution.

13 March: Preliminary findings from the Augher sheep show it does not have foot-and-mouth disease. However, Mrs Rodgers cautions that it will be four or five days before a definite result is available.

The Royal Ulster Agricultural Society announce that they are postponing the Balmoral Show, due to be held in Belfast in mid-May. They say it will move to mid-August instead.

22 March: The first test results on sheep slaughtered just across the border in County Lough in the Irish Republic show that foot-and-mouth has broken out there.

The affected flock was just a short distance from the farm at Meigh, the location of the only outbreak found so far in Northern Ireland.

26 March: Mrs Rodgers announces that an extended cull of sheep in the three-kilometre restriction zone around Meigh is to be carried out as part of measures to gain regionalisation for exports.

27 March: The European Commission agrees that Northern Ireland can have regional status and will be able to begin exporting produce again within a week if the province proves it is successful in containing its one outbreak.

28 March: Brid Rodgers announces that movement restrictions in the Northern Ireland countryside are being reduced except in the restriction zone around Meigh.

29 March: The extended cull of south Armagh sheep begins after the Department of Agriculture finally gains agreement from farmers that the animals will be taken to Newry for slaughter and to Belfast for rendering. Northern Ireland's chief vet says there is no risk from moving the animals as they are foot-and-mouth free and their carcasses do not excrete the disease.

30 March: The first carcasses are brought to Belfast for rendering.

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01 Mar 01 | UK
Farm disease takes hold
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