The Danish government announced strict new restrictions in the north-east of the country on Thursday after authorities discovered that a mutated version of coronovirus was also found in humans.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Friedrichsen warned that mutations could jeopardize the effectiveness of any future vaccines. He said that the mutated virus was found to weaken the ability to make antibodies.
As a result, seven municipalities in the north of the country, home to most of Denmark’s mink farms, would ban movement on county lines.
“Starting tonight, citizens in seven regions of northern Jutland are strongly encouraged to remain in their area to prevent the spread of infection,” Frederickson said during a news conference.
“We are asking you to do something completely extraordinary in North Jutland,” he said, speaking of the “real closure” of the area. “The world is watching us.”
Read more: Opinion: Epidemic closure will affect the German economy
North jutland closed
Frederickson discouraged people from traveling to the affected area. He said public transport would be closed with buses and trains and would be barred from entering or leaving north Jutland until 3 December.
Friedrichsen said schools, bars and restaurants would be closed, as would museums, libraries, swimming pools and gyms.
In addition, people were advised to work from home, and public meetings were limited to a maximum of 10 people.
The Prime Minister urged the residents of the area to stay within their municipality and conduct tests.
Danish emergency workers arrive at a farm in Gozel to kill Mink
Coronovirus mutation is associated with mink farms
The regional shutdown comes a day after the government ordered all mink furrows originating in fur farms after the mutated virus was discovered.
The new form of the virus has been detected in 12 people in the north so far. Health officials said they did not exhibit more severe forms of the disease.
Health Minister Magnus Hunnicke had said that half of 783 human coronovirus cases in northern Denmark are related to mink.
The Minister of Food Mogens Jensen said that at least 207 farms were now infected, since last month 41, and the virus has spread to all of Jutland’s western peninsula.
The government said that the country’s estimated 15 million minks could total up to 5 billion kronor ($ 785 million; € 670 million).
Hans Kluge, the European regional director of the World Health Organization, said Denmark showed “determination and courage” in deciding to reduce the mink population given the “huge economic impact”.
Authorities have called for the removal of infected mink herds since June due to frequent outbreaks on mink farms.
Denmark is the world’s largest producer of mink skin, producing an estimated 17 million furs per year and employing about 4,000 people. Last year, the Danish mink pellet industry exported around $ 800 million.
The Industry Association for Danish Breeders called Kalinga a “black day for Denmark”.
The government has promised to provide compensation to the farmers.
MVB / NM (Reuters, AFP, DPA)