Live imports of pigs, cattle, sheep and goats from France have been suspended, after foot and mouth disease was discovered there yesterday.

The ban is a precautionary measure, according to a spokesman from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), designed to prevent the spread of a strain of the disease reaching Hong Kong. The country has already implemented a similar ban against livestock from the UK, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan because of FMD.

The spokesman revealed: "FMD is an animal disease which is not a public health hazard. It is an endemic disease occurring in pigs in the region, including Hong Kong, during winter seasons. AFCD reminds pig farmers every year to take precaution against the disease which can best be controlled here by vaccination."