Europe is making an attempt to close down the brand new pressure of coronavirus from Danish mink farms

Mink on the estate of farmer Stig Sørensen, where all mink must be killed due to a government regulation on November 7, 2020 in Bording, Denmark.

Ole Jensen | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON – The discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in Danish mink farms has led to the introduction of stringent public health measures in the north of the country, with other European nations responding to the outbreak.

According to a warning from the Danish national authority for combating infectious diseases, the State Serum Institute, international spread of the mutated virus could potentially have "serious consequences" for a future Covid-19 vaccine.

More than a quarter of a million people in northern Denmark were locked down on Friday and citizens were urged to get tested after Covid-19 infections were reported among the mink population in that region.

Restaurants in seven communities had to close on Saturday, and schools in fifth grade and up had to switch to distance learning on Monday.

Elsewhere, the UK government has introduced stricter rules for arrivals from Denmark. Freight drivers who have been in Denmark or have traveled through Denmark in the past 14 days and are not based in the UK will now be denied entry to the UK. All passenger ships and the associated cargo from Denmark will also be stopped.

In Ireland, passengers from the Scandinavian country have been asked to take additional precautions to curb the spread of the newly discovered coronavirus strain.

The Irish government has stated that people should restrict their movements for 14 days after arriving from Denmark, even if they are visiting for an "essential" purpose.

What do we know about this new strain of Covid?

Last week Danish health officials raised the alarm about a mutated form of the coronavirus that has appeared in mink farms and has spread to humans.

Describing the situation as "very, very serious", Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ordered the country's mink farms to kill all 15 million minks to reduce the risk of the animals re-transmitting the strain of the coronavirus to humans.

Holger Rønnow, owner of a mink farm, on his farm where he is forced by the government to kill all mink en masse on November 6, 2020 in Herning, Denmark.

Ole Jensen | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Data from the animal rights group Humane Society International make Denmark the second largest exporter of mink fur worldwide after China. It is said that Denmark accounted for around half of all 35 million minks bred in Europe in 2018.

Since June, 214 human cases of Covid-19 have been identified in Denmark with variants associated with the farmed minks, the WHO said, including 12 cases with a unique variant that were reported on November 5.

All of these 12 cases came from North Jutland, Denmark, and those infected were between 7 and 79 years old.

The WHO said initial observations suggested that the clinical presentation, severity and transmission among those infected were similar to other circulating coronavirus strains.

The WHO has since launched a review of biosecurity measures in mink farms around the world.

Too early to come to any conclusion

The coronavirus is constantly evolving, and to date there is no evidence that the mutation found in Danish mink farms poses an increased risk to humans.

According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 50.3 million people worldwide had Covid-19 with 1.25 million deaths on Monday morning.

Drug manufacturers and research centers are working hard to provide a safe and effective vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic.

This April 10, 2020 illustration shows small bottles with the "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program, said Friday it was "far, far from" understanding whether the virus' mutation could affect diagnostics or vaccines.

The WHO chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, agreed.

"I think we'll have to wait and see what the effects are, but I don't think we should come to any conclusions about whether or not this particular mutation will affect the vaccine's effectiveness," Swaminathan said Friday.

"We have no evidence of this at the moment. But we will update you as soon as we have more information."

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