In a series of developments:

* Officials admitted for the first time that around 100,000 trees have been burnt in an attempt to control the disease. Until yesterday no such action had been acknowledged;

* Ministers introduced a ban on bringing ash trees into Britain or transporting saplings around the country, which comes into force on Sunday;

* A Government taskforce was launched to deal with the crisis, with more than 100 officials working full-time on it. Forestry Commission staff have been taken off normal duties to help;

* Critics began to question the speed of the official response after it emerged that the first British case was found eight months ago.