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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Disease restrictions hit north
Slaughtered livestock at Greyside Farm at Newborough
New livestock restrictions have been introduced
Farmers have been banned from moving animals across much of northern England as scientists try to eliminate foot-and-mouth disease after the latest outbreaks there.

The restriction - which does not affect abattoirs - covers 6,000 square miles covering the North East, Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Disease statistics
Cases so far: 2,004
Animals slaughtered: 3,820,000
Awaiting slaughter: 12,000
This comes as two more cases of foot-and-mouth disease were confirmed in Northumberland bringing the total number in the area during the past two weeks to 19.

The number of outbreaks reported nationally since the crisis began at the end of February 2001 has now reached 2004 with one new case in Cumbria on Wednesday.

At a briefing at Newcastle's Emergency Disease Control Centre on Wednesday, divisional veterinary manager Arthur Griffiths said existing animal movement licences would be revoked and no new licences issued for 21 days.

Letters have been sent to all farms in the affected area.

"We realise it will not be a popular move and we do ask, once again, for their patience as we try to get on top of what we hope is the tail of the disease," he said.

Blow to farmers

The new cases were at Bolts Hope farm, in Blanchland, near the border with County Durham, where 345 sheep and 356 lambs will be slaughtered, and Low Ardley farm, near Hexham, where 1,500 sheep and around 300 cattle will be culled.

Both farms fall within Northumberland's tightly controlled "blue box" area where animal movements are tightly controlled and tough biosecurity measures are in place.

The new outbreaks will come as a blow to farmers in the area who were hoping Northumberland's recent cluster of cases had been contained.

These are the first new cases since the weekend.

Government scientists have predicted the outbreak could last until the New Year - sparking fresh calls for a vaccination programme to be implemented.

Some argue that vaccination should completely replace the policy of slaughtering all infected and suspect animals, though more say it should be used to supplement the slaughter policy.

But the government has so far resisted introducing vaccinations for fear that British meat exports would be affected and the country's farming industry would gain a pariah image.

The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"The timing hardly could have been worse"
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