MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's veterinary watchdog is extending its ban of pork imports to include Britain over fears of a spread of the deadly swine flu virus, the watchdog said on Tuesday.
"We have closed (our borders) to one more EU country -- Britain," Nikolai Vlasov, Russia's chief veterinary inspector, told a news conference, Russian news agencies reported. His press spokesman later confirmed the comments.
Britain has 18 confirmed cases of the virus.
Russia's ban of live and raw meat imports has affected exporters of pork, beef and poultry in Mexico, where the virus is believed to have originated, Central American countries, the United States, Canada and Spain, mirroring the spread of swine flu.
Vlasov defended the agency's actions, saying that too little is known about the virus.
"We are constantly told that pork is not dangerous," Vlasov said. "But at the same time, nobody has proved that it is safe."
The ban on British pork imports will have little effect, because there is already a ban in place. Russia earlier restricted pork imports on fears over foot-and-mouth disease.
The agency's actions have been met with anger from exporting states, which claim there is no risk to human or animal health from meat imports. Under international trade laws, countries are allowed to block imports on health and safety grounds if there is scientific evidence of potential risks.
So far, Russia has reported no cases of swine flu.