Danish agriculture minister quits over mink culling fiasco

21 Novembre, 2020, 18:31 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • November 2020 shows mink looking out from their cage at the farm near Naestved Denmark belonging to Henrik Nordgaard Hansen and Ann Mona Kulsoe Larsen who have to kill off their herd which consists of 3000 mother mink and thei

A mink looks out from its 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.

The Danish health ministry said in a press release Thursday that no further cases of the C5 variant have been detected since September 15, and that this variant is now thought to be extinct.

It found that the Danish cull is still necessary as there are three times more mink than people in the country and the population was a "massive viral source that can easily infect people".

All minks on farms in Ireland are to be culled over the next few weeks because of Covid-19 concerns.

Six European states, South Africa, the Faroe Islands and the U.S. have reported mink-related COVID-19 mutations, confirming the transmission of the coronavirus from mink to humans.

Multiple mutations of the virus have been found in mink, but a variant known as C5 was the most concerning to scientists, due to its structure.

"The Department of Agriculture continues to engage with the mink farmers to consider the next steps", the department spokesperson said.

"I want the prime minister to do the same", opposition leader Jakob Elleman-Jensen of The Liberal Party said.

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On Thursday, authorities told all mink farms in the country to cull their minks, with the country's chief medical officer ordering it "as a matter of urgency".

Earlier this month, all farmed mink operations in Denmark were shuttered - and 15 million mink were slaughtered - after a mutated COVID-19 strain was discovered in the animals.

The Department of Agriculture said it is engaging with the country's three remaining fur farms.

"I particularly want to apologise to the many mink farmers who are facing such an unhappy situation", he said. There is no evidence that the mutated version is more risky but the government moved quickly out of safety, though it lacked the legal basis to order the killing of healthy animals too.

Health authorities said initial studies had shown that future vaccines against Covid-19 could be less effective on the "Cluster 5" variant.

It has recommended that farmed mink be culled.

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.

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