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6 Nov, 2020 12:49

Danish research institute says 214 people have been infected with mink-related coronavirus since June

Danish research institute says 214 people have been infected with mink-related coronavirus since June

Mink-related coronavirus infections have hit 214 people in Denmark, the State Serum Institute has said, days after the country decided to cull its entire herd of mink. The World Health Organization is looking into the situation.

The institute, which deals with infectious diseases, said on Thursday that mink variants of the virus had been detected in 200 people living in the North Jutland region, and 14 people in other parts of Denmark, during a massive outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 among mink.

The institute warned that the mutated coronavirus could potentially be more resistant against future Covid-19 vaccines.

The discovery prompted an extraordinary move from the government, which said on Wednesday that it would cull all 15-17 million minks in a bid to prevent human contagion. The decision may devastate the country’s pelt industry, which employs 4,000 people. Denmark is one of the biggest exporters of mink furs worldwide.

One strain of the mutated coronavirus, which was behind the decision to cull the entire herd of mink, has only been found in 12 people and on five mink farms in the north so far, according to authorities.

Health Minister Magnus Heunicke has claimed that half of the 783 human Covid-19 cases in northern Denmark were related to mink.

Also on rt.com Denmark to kill 11,000 mink to contain farm coronavirus outbreak

The government on Thursday imposed restrictions on movement in seven municipalities in northern Denmark, near most of the mink farms.

The country began to cull infected animals in June, but the outbreaks at farms have persisted. PM Mette Frederiksen believes a mutation in the virus could have “devastating consequences worldwide.”

The World Health Organization also sees the risk from the mutated virus as increasingly serious. Mike Ryan, executive director of the body’s health emergencies program, said on Friday that the WHO is preparing a risk assessment on Denmark to inform EU member states “in the coming hours.”

The WHO's technical lead for Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, also said Denmark is taking steps avoid  the creation of "a new animal reservoir for this virus."

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