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9 Nov, 2020 17:10

Mutated Covid-19 strain from mink prompts Israel to launch testing for travelers returning from Denmark

Mutated Covid-19 strain from mink prompts Israel to launch testing for travelers returning from Denmark

Israel has said it will conduct Covid-19 tests on passengers arriving from Denmark for a mutated strain of coronavirus spread at Danish mink farms.

The Israeli Health Ministry announced the move on Monday after it was reported that three of its citizens were being tested for the new strain of the virus after returning from the Scandinavian country. 

This could make Israel the seventh nation to identify cases of the virus linked to mink farms, after Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the US all reported cases.

"The likelihood of a patient carrying the mutation arriving in Israel is low," the ministry said in a statement on Monday. "At the same time, we are exercising extra caution." 

The statement did not confirm whether Israelis returning from Denmark had been infected, but added that the country had been placed on a list of "red countries," from which passengers must self-isolate on arrival.

"The Ministry of Health, together with the Home Front Command, has issued a list of passengers who have returned from Denmark and has been in contact with them since this morning to perform a special sampling for the corona and test the mutation," it added.

The Danish government ordered a cull of the country's 15-17 million mink population after scientists discovered that a new strain of Covid-19 was apparently spreading from the animals to humans. 

Denmark's first registered coronavirus infection from a mink to a person was back in June. Since then, at least 214 people have been infected by five different strains of the virus.

Israel has reported 319,562 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 2,674 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to figures maintained by Johns Hopkins University in the US.

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