Denmark mink COVID mutation: Northern region under lockdown
Jan M. Olsen
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Greater than 1 / 4 million Danes went into lockdown Friday in a northern area of the nation the place a mutated variation of the coronavirus has contaminated minks being farmed for his or her fur, resulting in an order to kill tens of millions of the animals.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated the transfer was meant to include the virus, and it got here two days after the federal government ordered the cull of all 15 million minks bred at Denmark’s 1,139 mink farms.
The coronavirus evolves consistently and, thus far, there is no such thing as a proof that any of the mutations pose an elevated hazard to individuals. However Danish authorities weren’t taking any probabilities.
“As an alternative of ready for proof, it’s higher to behave shortly,” stated Tyra Grove Krause, head division at Statens Serum Institut, a authorities company that maps the unfold of the coronavirus in Denmark.
In seven northern Danish municipalities with some 280,000 residents sport and cultural actions have been suspended, public transportation has been stopped and regional borders have been closed. Solely individuals with so-called “crucial capabilities” akin to police and well being officers and totally different authorities are being permitted to cross municipal boundaries.
Folks within the area have been urged to to be examined. As of Saturday, eating places should shut and college college students from fifth grade and up will swap to distant studying Monday.
“We should knock down utterly this virus variant,” Well being Minister Magnus Heunicke stated Thursday, including that the mutated virus had been present in 12 individuals.
Final month, Denmark began culling tens of millions of minks within the north of the nation after COVID-19 infections had been reported among the many inventory there. Nationwide, no less than 216 out of the 1,139 fur farms in Denmark have now been contaminated.
Kaare Moelbak of Statens Serum Institut stated the virus variant was registered in August and September, and no mutations have been discovered since, so it was not identified if it nonetheless exists. The mutated virus was present in 5 mink farms, in response to the federal government physique.
WHO officers stated every case must be evaluated to find out if any of the adjustments imply the virus behaves in another way.
“We’re a protracted, great distance from making any dedication of that sort,” stated Mike Ryan, the WHO emergencies chief. He stated that such mutations occur on a regular basis in viruses.
“Proper now the proof that now we have does not imply that this variant is in any approach totally different in the best way it behaves,” he stated in Geneva.
Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO knowledgeable on meals security, stated that preliminary research on pigs, chickens and cattle “present that these species are in no way vulnerable in the identical approach that mink are, for instance. So even when these animals had been contaminated, they’d not have the ability to maintain and unfold the illness in the identical approach.”
Britain on Friday stated that individuals coming from Denmark should self-isolate for 14 days, including the nation to a listing of nations it deems dangerous.
The Danish authorities stated a mutation of the virus had been present in 12 individuals contaminated by minks, which farmers have been ordered to cull en masse, however specialists stated the importance of any variant pressure and its impact on people was unclear as a result of it was but to be studied.
Denmark, the world’s largest mink fur exporter, produces an estimated 17 million furs per yr. Kopenhagen Fur, a cooperative of 1,500 Danish breeders, accounts for 40% of the worldwide mink manufacturing. Most of its exports go to China and Hong Kong.
The pelts of the mink might be destroyed and Danish fur farmers have stated the cull, which is estimated to price as much as 5 billion kroner ($785 million), could spell the tip of the trade within the nation.
General, Denmark has reported 53,180 circumstances of coronavirus and 738 deaths.
Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.