Coronavirus and mink – What is a mink fur animal and what are they used for?

THE CORONAVIRUS can be passed between animals and humans – as is the case with a recent outbreak in Denmark.

Around 250,000 Danes were forced into lockdown on Friday (November 6, 2020) after a mutant strain of mink-related coronavirus had been found in humans.

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What are mink?

Mink are dark-coloured carnivorous mammals from the Mustelidae family, which also includes weasels, otters and ferrets.

Mink, like their close relatives, ferrets, are known to be susceptible to coronavirus.

Like humans they can show a range of Covid-19 symptoms, from no signs of illness at all to severe problems, such as pneumonia.

What are they used for?

More than 50 million mink a year are bred for their fur, mainly in China, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland.

Mink oil is used in some medical products and cosmetics, as well as to treat, preserve and waterproof leather.

Outbreaks have been reported on fur farms in the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Sweden, Italy and the US.;

As a result, millions of animals have had to be culled.

Denmark, the world’s largest producer of mink fur, announced on Friday (November 6, 2020) that it will cull its entire population of around 17 million minks to stop the spread of a mutated strain of the virus which has been linked to the animals and resulting in a mutated Covid-19 to 12 humans.

What do we know about coronavirus mutations?

Denmark’s State Serum Institute – which deals with infectious diseases – has found mink-related versions of coronavirus in 214 people since June, according to a report on its website.

However, the more infectious strain of the mutated coronavirus – which sparked the cull – has to date only been found in 12 people and on five mink farms, reports Reuters.

Danish officials have said that this mutation does not cause a more severe illness in humans – but that it is not inhibited by antibodies to the same degree as the normal virus.

Lab tests and preliminary studies suggest that antibodies in people infected with Covid-19 were less effective in inhibiting the strain – which the report calls 'Cluster 5.'

Of the 12 people infected with this mutated strain, 11 are from the North Jutland region including four who were connected to three of the farms where the strain was found.

Is it safe to travel to Denmark?

Travel between the UK and Denmark has been banned due to the coronaviurs outbreak at the North Jutland Mink farm.

Downing Street removed Denmark from the travel corridor for Brits to fly to from 4am on Friday (November 6, 2020).

But the government have now banned all inbound travel from the Scandanivian country.

All non-British national or resident travellers who have been in or transited through Denmark in the past 14 days will be denied entry into the UK.

British nationals or residents returning from Denmark will be still be allowed entry into the UK. Freight and hauliers are also excluded from the ban.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted:“This decision to act quickly follows on from health authorities in Denmark reporting widespread outbreaks of coronavirus in mink farms. Keeping the UK public safe remains our top priority.”

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