Danish agriculture minister quits over mink culling fiasco

The Statesman Journal

The Statesman Journal

The Department of Agriculture previously said it had maintained contact with Irish mink farms and while a testing regime was to be implemented, no Covid cases had yet been identified.

Earlier in November, Danish authorities ordered the cull of all minks in the country after Covid-19 outbreaks were linked to some of the 1,200 Danish mink farms.

Denmark's health ministry said on Thursday that a new, mutated strain of the novel coronavirus stemming from mink farms is "most likely" extinct.

The move has left the three farms "devastated and without a livelihood", a representative of Fur Europe said.

As Ireland continues to try to flatten the Covid curve amid hopes of a vaccine reaching the market in the coming weeks, the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan wrote to the Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue in recent days recommending that the country's farmed mink be culled to minimise or eliminate this risk.

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

RTE reported that, while there are no immediate plans to carry out the proposed cull, government officials in the Department of Agriculture have already informed some farm owners that it will happen.

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.

It's led to concerns here that if there were a mutation of the virus -it could affect the roll out of any vaccine.

The PM has defended the decision to cull the country's mink, saying it was based on the assessment of health authorities.

"I particularly want to apologise to the many mink farmers who are facing such an unhappy situation", he said.

Poland, which is a major producer of mink fur, started coronavirus tests among its farmed minks and checks among the workers earlier this month after a mutated virus was detected in farmed minks in Denmark, leading to a nationwide cull there.

Denmark's health minister on Thursday stated that the strain had "most likely" been eradicated and authorities were lifting most of the regional shutdown measures.

Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden are the other nations to have discovered SARS-CoV-2 in minks, the agency said in a statement.

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