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Denmark tightens North Jutland restrictions in response to coronavirus mutation

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced special restrictions for more than 280,000 people in the north of Denmark on Thursday after a mutated version of the new coronavirus linked to mink farms was found in humans.

Denmark tightens North Jutland restrictions in response to coronavirus mutation
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at Thursday evening's briefing. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Copenhagen warned that the mutation could threaten the effectiveness of any future vaccine.

“From tonight, citizens in seven areas of North Jutland are strongly encouraged to stay in their area to prevent the spread of infection,” Frederiksen told a news conference, adding that people were being ordered not to travel there, while bars and restaurants would also shut.

“We are asking you in North Jutland to do something completely extraordinary,” Frederiksen said, talking of a “real closure” of the region.

“The eyes of the world are on us,” she added.

Public transport in the region will be shut down with buses and trains stopped from entering or leaving.

School children in the seven municipalities, in classes from the fifth to eighth grades, will be sent home and attend lessons remotely, DR reports. Youth education, including exams, will be conducted entirely online and attendance at higher education such as universities will be reduced by 50 percent.

Culture and sporting facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, amusement parks, zoos, theatres, museums, libraries and cinemas will all be shut, though outdoor exercise areas will be allowed to remain open.

The regional health authority, Region Nordjylland (North Jutland) said in a statement it was preparing to mass-test 280,000 residents in the affected areas for coronavirus.

Denmark, the world's largest exporter of mink fur, raised concerns on Wednesday by announcing the slaughter of all mink in the country — numbering 15 to 17 million spread over 1,080 farms — following the discovery of the mutation which can be passed to humans.

The mutation has already been detected in 12 people — 11 cases in the region being closed down, and one in another.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: How serious is Denmark's mink coronavirus mutation and outbreak?

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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