Danish minister resigns over mink virus row

Sweden mink industry workers test positive for COVID-19

Around 100,000 mink are to be culled on Irish fur farms in the coming weeks amid concerns over a mutated coronavirus strain.

Mink on all farms known to have been infected have been culled, Danish authorities said on Wednesday, but a further 25 farms are still suspected of being infected.

An agriculture ministry spokesman said that testing of Ireland's mink herd had yielded no positive Covid-19 tests to date.

This week, Denmark failed to gain the essential support in Parliament to push through an authorized reform that will prohibit mink breeding before 31 December 2021. The unsafe coronavirus variant has been found on fur farms in the US, Sweden, Italy and Spain.

According to the Department of Health, the continued farming represents an ongoing risk of additional, mink-adapted Covid variants emerging.

The Chief Medical Officer has written to the Department of Agriculture voicing concern that the mutation could affect the rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also apologized earlier in the week, and said the government had not been aware that there was no legal basis for its decision.

"I regretted this earlier, I regret it again and take responsibility for this, especially I regret this to the many mink farmers who have been in a very unhappy situation", adding that "There has only been one goal: to stop the Covid-19 infection in and from mink because it poses a threat to public health".

The remaining mink farms in Ireland, home to around 120,000 mink, are located in Donegal, Laois and Kerry.

Denmark and the United States are among six countries that have reported new coronavirus cases linked to mink farms, the World Health Organization said on November 7.

Ireland is ordering the nation's three mink farms to cull all of their 120,000 animals, signaling a likely end to Irish fur farming after years of debate and delay. Health officials said the strain showed a lower sensitivity to antibodies, sparking fears that it could weaken the effectiveness of vaccines.

Covid-19 can mutate in mink, which a virus can do anyway, and then it can potentially come back to us. Veterinary authorities said earlier this month they had ordered tests in 18 farms in four administrative regions of the country.

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