COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark on Thursday announced strict new lockdown rules in the north of the country after authorities discovered a mutated coronavirus strain in the mink in the area, which would devastate a large-scale industry.
The government said on Wednesday that it would wipe out all mink up to 17 million – to prevent human contagion with a mutated coronavirus, which officials said could be more resistant against future vaccines.
Seven municipalities in northern Denmark, for most of the country’s mink farms, will face restrictions on movement on county lines, while restaurants and bars will close, Prime Minister Mateo Frederickson told a news conference.
The schools will be closed and all public transport will be closed by December 3, he said, encouraging area residents to live within their municipality and conduct tests.
For Denmark’s mink pellet industry, which exported nearly $ 800 million last year and employed 4,000 people, the cuckoo could have rung the death knell. The industry association for Danish breeders called the move a “black day for Denmark”.
“Of course, we should not cause a new epidemic. We do not know the professional basis for this assessment and risk … but the government’s decision is a disaster for the industry and Denmark. ‘
At his family-owned mink farm west of the capital Copenhagen, 34-year-old Hans Heinrich Jeppesen said he was devastated by the decision.
“This is a very sad situation for me and my family,” he told Reuters. 36,000 minks of Jepsen have not been infected, but will be blunt and foreskin within the next 10 days.
Some MPs demanded to see the evidence behind such drastic action.
A spokesperson for the Liberal Party told broadcaster TV2 on Wednesday, “We are asking to send it to (the evidence), so we can assess the technical basis.”
Outbreaks in mink farms have maintained Denmark, Europe’s largest producer and exporter of mink furs, despite repeated attempts to catch infected animals since June.
Animal rights groups welcomed the government-imposed collective, and called for a general ban on what they said was an “old” industry.
“Although fur farming is not banned, the move signals the end of misery for millions of animals confined to small wire cages on Danish fur farms,” said Joanna Swebe of the Humane Society International.
In a meeting on Thursday with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, experts agreed to deal with the situation with Denmark’s strategy, the state’s epidemiologist Keré Molbach said.
The WHO European Regional Director, Hans Kluge, said Denmark showed “determination and courage” in the face of the decision to reduce its mink population, which has a “huge economic impact”.
While no coronovirus has been detected on mink farms in Poland, another major mink pellet manufacturer, authorities in Sweden on Thursday banned mink farms after the infection was found.
However, he has not observed mutations found in neighboring Denmark.
In a report published on Wednesday, the State Serum Institute (SSI), the authority dealing with infectious diseases, said laboratory tests showed that the new strain had a mutation on its so-called spike protein, a part of the virus that is found on healthy cells Attacks and infects.
SSI stated that there is a risk of COVID-19 vaccines in the future, which are based on neutralizing spike proteins.
Ian Jones, a virology professor at Britain’s University of Reading, said the virus would be expected to mutate into new species.
“It must adapt to be able to use mink receptors to enter cells and therefore will be able to modify the spike protein so that it can occur efficiently”.
“The danger is that the mutated virus can again spread to humans and evade a response to any vaccine that would have been designed for the original, non-mutated version of the spike protein and the mink-adapted version.”
Danish officials said five cases of the new virus strain were reported on mink farms and 12 cases on humans.
James Wood, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, cautioned that the true implications of changes in spike proteins have not yet been fully assessed by scientists.
“It is too early to say that the change will cause vaccines or immunity to fail,” he said.
Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen, Anthony Diction in Amsterdam, Johann Ahlander and Kollam Fulton in Stockholm and Anna Kopper in Warsaw; Editing by Mike Collett-White