A Danish report showed that COVID-19 mutations were found in 12 people in the north of the country infected with mink.


COPENHAGEN, Denmark – More than a quarter of a million Danes were shut down Friday in a northern part of the country where a mutant variant of the coronavirus infects farmed mink for fur, leading to orders to kill millions of animals.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the move was aimed at stopping the virus and came two days after the government ordered the destruction of all 15 million weasels raised on 1,139 Danish mink farms.

The coronavirus virus is constantly evolving and to date, there is no evidence that any mutations are dangerous to humans. But the Danish authorities did not take advantage of any opportunities.

“Instead of waiting for evidence, it’s better to act quickly,” said Tyra Grove Krause, head of the Statens Serum Institut, a government agency mapping the spread of coronavirus in Denmark.

In the seven autonomous cities of northern Denmark with about 280,000 residents, cultural and sporting activities were suspended, public transport was stopped and regional borders closed. Only people with so-called “critical functions” such as police and health officials and other authorities are allowed to cross city boundaries.

People in the area have been encouraged to be checked. From Saturday, restaurants are closed and students in fifth grade and above will switch to distance learning on Mondays.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Thursday: “We must completely eliminate this virus variant, adding that the mutant virus has been found in 12 people,” he said.

Last month, Denmark began destroying millions of weasels in the north of the country after reporting COVID-19 infection in weasels there. Nationwide, at least 216 out of 1,139 fur farms in Denmark are currently infected.

Kaare Moelbak of Statens Serum Institut says this viral variant was registered in August and September, and no mutation has been found since then, so it’s not known if it still exists. According to government agencies, a mutant virus was found in five mink farms.

Each case should be evaluated to determine if there are any changes that mean the virus is acting differently, WHO officials said.

“We are a long way from making that kind of decision,” said Mike Ryan, WHO’s head of emergencies. Such mutations happen all the time in viruses, he said.

“Right now, the evidence we have doesn’t suggest this variant has any difference in how it works,” he said at Geneva.

Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert on food safety, said that early studies in pigs, chickens and cattle “showed that these species are not at all susceptible to diseases like weasels. Even if these animals become infected, they will not be able to sustain and spread the disease the same way. “

Britain on Friday said people from Denmark had to isolate themselves for 14 days, putting the country on the list of countries deemed at risk.

The Danish government said a mutation of the virus was found in 12 people infected with mink, the farmers were ordered to mass destruction, but experts say the importance of any mutant strains. How and its effects on humans are unknown.

Denmark, the world’s largest exporter of mink fur, produces an estimated 17 million furs per year. Kopenhagen Fur, a cooperative of 1,500 Danish breeders, accounts for 40% of global mink production. Most of its exports go to China and Hong Kong.

Mink pellets will be destroyed and Danish farmers say the destruction, estimated to be worth up to 5 billion kroner ($ 785 million), could mark the end of the industry in the country. this.

Overall, Denmark has reported 53,180 coronavirus infections and 738 deaths.

Jamey Keaten of Geneva contributed to this report.

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