Could mink coronavirus outbreak damage Denmark’s international reputation?

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
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.

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.

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  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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