Denmark to restrict North Jutland borders due to mink coronavirus outbreak

Authorities in Denmark are to ask residents in North Jutland not to leave their home municipalities due to concerns over the spread of a mutated form of coronavirus.

Denmark to restrict North Jutland borders due to mink coronavirus outbreak
Jammerbugt is one of seven North Jutland municipalities to be encompassed by local restrictions due to a coronavirus mutation stemming from mink. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Seven municipalities with confirmed coronavirus cases in mink are to be encompassed by restrictions asking residents to remain within municipal limits as far as possible.

The municipalities affected by the order are Hjørring, Frederikshavn, Vesthimmerland, Brønderslev, Jammerbugt, Thisted and Læsø.

“We have to stop movement of residents across municipal borders. We need to find a model for this,” Per Bach Laursen, the mayor in the Vesthimmerland municipality, told Politiken.

Restaurants, sports and cultural activities are to be closed for the next four weeks, Laursen also told the newspaper.

Regional broadcaster TVMidtvest reports that there is unlikely to be any physical control of municipal borders, but that the government is still working to finalise measures. That is also based on comments from Laursen, the mayor in Vesthimmerland.

The intervention comes after the national government on Wednesday announced it would cull the entire population of minks at farms in Denmark.

The decision to cull up to 17 million animals was deemed unavoidable after a mutated version of the new coronavirus was detected at mink farms and then spread to people.

The mutation “could pose a risk that future (coronavirus) vaccines won't work the way they should,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference, adding: “It is necessary to cull all the minks.”

Laursen told broadcaster DR that people in the affected North Jutland municipalities should stay within the borders of the municipality in which they live and get a coronavirus test.

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus in the affected municipalities will also be required to test for whether they have been infected with the normal strain or the variation from mink farms.

Schools and child care facilities will remain open, but adult education will be limited, according to the Danish media reports.

The restrictions will come into effect from tomorrow for an initial four weeks.

Twelve people were registered as infected with a mutated form of the coronavirus, news wire Ritzau reported on Wednesday, but the real number is likely to be far higher. Newspaper Information reported on Thursday that up to four or five percent of infections in North Jutland may be with the specific mink mutation of coronavirus that is concerning authorities.

READ ALSO: Denmark to cull millions of minks over mutated coronavirus




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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.”