China has banned imports of British livestock and their products to guard against an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the government's food safety bureau announced Wednesday.
The ban went into effect Tuesday and covers all hoofed animals, along with their meat, milk and other products, according to a circular posted on the Web site of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine.
Such products arriving in China before Wednesday, including milk and meat, would be tested for the disease and allowed to enter the country if shown to be safe, the administration said.
All products received on or after Wednesday would be sent back or destroyed, it said. British authorities have thrown a two-mile (3.22-kilometer) protection zone around two farms where the virus was discovered last week.
The ban covers commercial imports, private shipments and products on board flights, trains and ships passing through China or docking at Chinese ports.
The highly contagious foot-and-mouth virus was discovered on a farm in southern England last week located four miles (6.5 kilometers) from a laboratory complex shared by the government's Institute for Animal Health and a company that produces foot-and-mouth vaccines.
Britain's health and safety agency said there was a strong probability that the foot-and-mouth outbreak in southern England originated at the lab site and was spread by human movement.
Foot-and-mouth can be carried by wind and on the vehicles and clothes of people who come into contact with infected animals.
Cattle at the farm and another one located within the exclusion zone have been slaughtered as Britain scrambles to halt the spread of the virus to other herds in southern England.