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MINKS

Denmark introduces year-long ban on mink farming after cull

Denmark's parliament on Monday passed a law banning the keeping of minks for a year, following the country's controversial cull of all minks over a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus.

Denmark introduces year-long ban on mink farming after cull
Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The law, which bans mink husbandry until December 31st 2021, also contains a provision that dictates that in case the ban is not respected, the minks will be euthanized, effectively removing a legal challenge that has shaken the government after it in early November ordered all minks in country culled.

“The Danish mink breeders have sacrificed their life's work for the common good. We owe them a big thank you,” agriculture minister Rasmus Prehn said in a post to Twitter, adding that there was now a compensation scheme for breeders. 

In early November, Denmark — which is the world's largest exporter of mink fur — announced it would cull all of the country's more than 15 million minks after a mutated version of the novel coronavirus was discovered and believed to jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines.

Once a mass culling programme had already begun, a court challenge to the order found that the executive's decision had no legal basis, leading to the resignation of the previous agriculture minister.

Adding to the scandal, it was later revealed that the disposal of the dead animals posed an environmental threat amid fears that phosphorus and nitrogen could be released in large quantities into the soil surrounding mass graves due to the decomposition process.

In one grisly turn of the story, one mass grave saw dead minks, that had been buried too shallow, rising out of the ground.

On Sunday the government said four million mink carcasses would be dug up and burned in six months' time once the risk of infection is completely passed.

Copenhagen said on November 19th that the “Cluster 5” mutation had been wiped 
out
, and so far mink are the only animal confirmed to be capable both of contracting the strain and of passing it to humans.

Danish broadcaster DR also reported Monday that a majority of the parties in parliament had agreed to appoint a commission that would evaluate the government handling of the mink crisis.

READ ALSO: Danish PM apologises for handling of mink crisis during far farm visit

 

 

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COVID-19

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.” 

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