12 March 2001
Gill doubts disease is ‘contained’

By FWi staff

NATIONAL Farmers Union president Ben Gill has distanced himself from Government claims that the foot-and-mouth outbreak has been contained.

Agriculture minister Nick Brown said he was “absolutely certain” that the disease is “under control”, despite a record number of new cases on Sunday (11 March).

Twenty-five new cases were confirmed, including the first cases in Kent, and Gloucestershire.

But Mr Gill warned that it is “possible” that the current outbreak could exceed the figure of up to 80 cases in one day reported in the 1967 outbreak.

“We do know that the movement restrictions have curtailed any potential contagion around the country,” he told the BBC.

“But we still do not know at this stage exactly where the sheep that were moved from the infected markets went.

“Equally, we cannot control the movement of the virus by wind or, as seems to be the case, by starlings, which have been descending en masse on certain buildings.

“In 1967 we got up to 80 cases in one day and I hope we dont get to that this time, but it is possible.”

Meanwhile Irish natural resources minister Hugh Byrne has condemned Britains handling of the foot-and-mouth outbreak as “scandalous”.

“Britain seems to have taken a line of Well, well take it easy and it will go away,” Mr Byrne told the BBC.

He called for Britain to implement the strictest restrictions, and ban sports fixtures and any other major gatherings.

“If thats not done, then were in for the long haul and all of us will suffer,” he warned.

Meanwhile, several newspapers focus on the impact of the crisis on the tourist industry, which is reported to be running at 75% below normal.

According to English Tourist Council figures, 100 million a week is being lost, reports The Independent. Farmers have lost 30m, it says.

But according to The Guardian, the Government is holding out the possibility of help for the tourist sector.

Mr Brown said the Government was “monitoring all of these things”.

Foot-and-mouth – confirmed outbreaks
Foot-and-mouth – FWi coverage