Covid-19 testing operation underway at Laois mink farm

Denmark will kill an estimated 17 million mink to contain mutated coronavirus

The United States Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) said humans working on one Utah farm who had COVID-19 in July likely transferred the virus to the animals, but there were no signs that the mink had infected any workers back.

The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen introduced a shutdown in a northwestern region of the country where the strain was identified.

Frederiksen also said schools, bars and restaurants will shut, as will museums, libraries, swimming pools and gyms.

Denmark officials had informed the World Health Organization (WHO) and other global health bodies.

Denmark raised concern on Wednesday when it announced the mass culling of all mink in the kingdom - 15 to 17 million animals - after the discovery of a mutation transmissible to humans already detected in 12 people.

Speaking briefly on Friday, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kekhov warned that "changes are normal".

All Danish mink people should be selected quickly to prevent the spread of the new mutant form of the virus.

Yes. Reuters reported 90,000 mink were killed in the summer after an outbreak on a farm in the summer, after which many human workers on the farm became infected.

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To date, Denmark has registered 50,530 confirmed coronavirus cases and 729 deaths. But genetic detective work has shown that in a small number of cases, in the Netherlands and now Denmark, the virus seems to have passed the other way, from mink to humans.

A mink look out from their cage at the farm of Henrik Nordgaard Hansen and Ann-Mona Kulsoe Larsen as they have to kill off their herd, which consists of 3000 mother mink and their cubs on their farm near Naestved, Denmark, on Friday.

Control measures to prevent spread of mink-related strains beyond northern Denmark are being developed, the World Health Organization said in a statement to NPR. The animals in some of Denmark's fur farms contain a novel coronavirus mutation.

The mink-related virus strains fit in five different clusters, Danish authorities said.

What are the mink strains and why do they matter?

Meanwhile, researchers from the University College London (UCL) found that 26 types of animals are likely to acquire coronavirus. The study found that minks carry a unique protein in their lungs, which makes them highly at risk to COVID-19.

But they added that this variant, referred to as the "cluster 5" variant, had "a combination of mutations, or changes that have not been previously observed". "Not just for Denmark, but for how the whole world handles the coronavirus".

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