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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

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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