The Government has this morning set up a 10km exclusion zone around a farm in Egham, Surrey, and ordered the slaughter of animals there, following the confirmation of a new case of Foot and Mouth.

Gordon Brown will be chairing a Cobra emergency meeting at 5pm today to discuss the situation. In the meantime, the public is being urged to remain vigilant and call the Foot and Mouth helpline if they have concerns: 08459 33 55 77.

Chief vet Debby Reynolds has issued a statement on The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website. It reads: ‘I reiterate my message to animal keepers to practice the highest standards of biosecurity, remain vigilant for disease and report any suspicions quickly.’

Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), responded by saying: ‘This is an absolute disaster. We worked so hard to stamp out the early outbreak.’

A report into August’s outbreak found that it was probably caused by damaged drains and building work at the Pirbright site, although the exact cause is unlikely ever to be confirmed.

The European Commission decided yesterday to lift the remaining trade restrictions that were put in place last month, although that decision has now been suspended following the confirmation of this new Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Meanwhile, vets in Scotland are investigating a suspected case of the disease at an agricultural centre in Lanarkshire. A single sheep is being tested after showing some symptoms of the disease.