Could mink coronavirus outbreak damage Denmark’s international reputation?

Confusion and a breakdown in the proper process relating to the Danish government’s decision to cull millions of fur farm mink could undermine international confidence in the country, a leading politician has warned.

Could mink coronavirus outbreak damage Denmark’s international reputation?
Minks at a fur farm in Næstved, Zealand, on November 6th. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Minister of Finance Nicolai Wammen appealed to parliament to be decisive in settling the ongoing matter of culling up to 17 million fur farm mink in the country. Talks are now entering their third day.

The government has been beset by problems and criticism since the announcement last week to cull all farmed minks in Denmark as well as partially lock down North Jutland, in response to concerns about a mutated form of coronavirus detected in the animals.

Criticism of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen along with food and environment minister Mogens Jensen has mounted, after it emerged that the government had no legal basis for an order to cull minks outside of specified coronavirus risk zones.

The restrictions are in North Jutland place until December 3rd, but Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen yesterday suggested they could be eased before that.

Meanwhile, several experts have said that the mink coronavirus variant at the centre of the issue is not as likely to reduce the efficacy of a potential Covid-19 vaccine as previously feared.

Wammen yesterday stressed the need for parties in parliament to reach consensus over the ongoing response to the mink outbreak, with negotiations scheduled to enter a fourth day on Thursday.

“It is a very big concern that this will create uncertainty around Denmark and the companies exporting (goods) around the world if we don’t reach an agreement as quickly as possible,” Wammen said in comments reported by Ritzau.

“There could be consequences for Danish trade and relationships with other countries, like those we’ve seen with the United Kingdom and Ireland, which have banned travel from Denmark. We hardly want that to spread to other countries,” he said.

READ ALSO: UK bans ships and planes and truckers from Denmark in bid to stop mink strain of Covid

Political agreement would bring calm to the ongoing situation over the mink culling, he argued.

Questions over the illegal directive to cull some of the animals, as well as the danger posed by the mutations itself, have left a number of issues unresolved and outcomes unclear.

The Confederation of Danish Industry (Dansk Industri, DI) an interest organisation for businesses in Denmark, previously urged politicians to pass an emergency law so that the decision to cull the minks can be taken to a conclusion.

“The minks constitute a real and serious health risk. Here, we’ve taken resolute action in Denmark based on health authority recommendations,” DI’s CEO Lars Sandahl Sørensen said to Ritzau on Monday.

“That’s why this must be completed and seen through as soon as possible, so we can maintain the high image and standard of Danish food products around the world,” Sørensen added.

Frederiksen announced on Wednesday last week that the mink were to be culled, before later apologising after it became clear during last weekend that the government lacked legal basis for the order. The government has said that the illegal directive to cull the animals was the result of a mistake.

Agreement in parliament could create the necessary provisions in Danish law to enable the destruction of the mink to be completed legally.

Member comments

  1. Just the fact that Denmark has been farming minks is damaging to its international reputation. These minks were kept crowded in small cages with wire floors which damaged their paws, very cruel conditions. Who on earth still wears mink coats, hats and stoles, anyway?

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IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?

The number of new Covid-19 infections fell on Saturday for the second day in a row, following a three-day plateau at the start of last week. Has the omicron wave peaked?

IN NUMBERS: Has the Omicron Covid-19 wave peaked in Denmark?
Graffiti in the Copenhagen hippy enclave of Christiania complaining of Omicron's impact on Christmas. Photo: Philip Davali/Scanpix

How many cases, hospitalisations and deaths are there in Denmark? 

Denmark registered 12,588 new cases in the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, down from the 18,261 registered on in the day leading up to Friday at 2pm, which was itself a decline from the record 28,283 cases recorded on Wednesday. 

The cases were identified by a total of 174,517 PCR tests, bringing the positive percentage to 7.21 percent, down from the sky high rates of close to 12 percent seen in the first few days of January. 

The number of cases over the past seven days is lower than the week before in almost every municipality in Denmark, with only Vallensbæk, Aarhus, Holseterbro, Skanderborg, Hjørring, Vordingborg,  Ringkøbing, Kolding, Assens, Horsens, Thisted, and Langeland reporting rises. 

Hospitalisations have also started to fall, with some 730 patients being treated for Covid-10 on Saturday, down from 755 on Friday. On Tuesday, 794 were being treated for Covid-19 in Danish hospitals, the highest number since the peak of the 2020-21 winter wave.

The only marker which has not yet started to fall is the number of deaths, which tends to trail infections and hospitalisations. 

In the 24 hours leading up to 2pm on Saturday, Denmark registered 28 deaths with Covid-19, the highest daily number recorded since 20 January 2021, when 29 people died with Covid-19 (although Denmark’s deadliest day was the 19 January 2021, when 39 people died). 

How does Denmark compare to other countries in Europe? 

Over the last seven days, Denmark has had the highest Covid-19 case rate of any country in Europe bar Ireland. The number of new infections in the country has climbed steadily since the start of December, apart from a brief fall over Christmas. 

So does this mean the omicron wave has peaked? 

Maybe, although experts are not sure. 

“Of course, you can hope for that, but I’m not sure that is the case,” said Christian Wejse, head of the Department for Infectious Diseases at Aarhus University Hospital. “I think it is too early to conclude that the epidemic has peaked.”

He said that patients with the Omicron variant were being discharged more rapidly on average than had been the case with those who had the more dangerous Delta variant. 

“Many admissions are relatively short-lived, thankfully. This is because many do not become that il, and are largely hospitalized because they are suffering with something else. And if they are stable and do not need oxygen, then they are quickly discharged again.” 

Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a visit to an event held by the Social Liberal party that the latest numbers made her even more optimistic about the coming month. 

“We have lower infection numbers and the number of hospitalisations is also plateauing,” she said. “I think we’re going to get through this winter pretty well, even if it will be a difficult time for a lot of people, and we are beginning to see the spring ahead of us, so I’m actually very optimistic.” 

She said that she had been encouraged by the fact that Omicron was a “visibly less dangerous variant if it is not allowed to explode.”