Papers focus on virus response

Source: FWi 07 November 2002

By Jane Oliver

THE government's response to two foot-and-mouth inquiries is reported in four of Britain’s newspapers.

The Financial Times reports that “slaughtering infected animals must remain the main weapon in combating outbreaks of foot-and-mouth”.

But vaccination could be given a greater role, it adds.

The paper quotes Margaret Beckett saying: “Nothing can ever erase the horrors and tragedies of the epidemic. But we can resolve to establish more effective safeguards.”

Schemes to compensate farmers for slaughtered animals are being reviewed with arrangements to be finalised in 2004, reports the paper.

The Independent concentrates on the vaccination policy saying "ministers would tackle any outbreak with a huge vaccination programme".

Mrs Beckett has "conceded that the strategy of a massive cull of livestock had been misjudged," it says.

The minister was "responding to inquiries which concluded that the disease spread far wider than it need because of the government’s inadequate response".

Infected animals would be slaughtered but healthy ones just inoculated to prevent any spread, the paper reports.

"The move was fiercely resisted by ministers last year, who feared it would mean British meat could never be sold abroad again."

The Guardian reports Mrs Beckett saying that a "full armoury of weapons" was needed as part of a comprehensive strategy to fight any disease.

The Daily Telegraph focuses on news that Customs and Excise will be given sole responsibility for searching for illegal meat imports.

"Customs and Excise are the losers in a behind-the-scenes row in which they argued that they did not have the resources to search for illegal meat imports."