U.K. Bans Travelers From Denmark After Covid Mink Mutation
The U.K. banned travelers from Denmark following an outbreak of a rare mutation of Covid-19 in the Nordic country’s mink farms, in a sign of how quickly the situation is escalating.
Visitors from Denmark would be denied entry from 4 a.m. on Nov. 7, the U.K. Department for Transport said in a statement Saturday, just 24 hours after it imposed quarantine on travelers from the region. British nationals, visa holders and permanent residents who have been to Denmark in the last two weeks will have to self-isolate with their household, and further measures on freight will be announced over the weekend, the department said.
Denmark said earlier this week it had found a “unique” mutation of the virus with the potential to derail the development of a vaccine. Health officials are coordinating their efforts to contain the outbreak with the World Health Organization, which includes culling the entire population of mink, or as many as 17 million animals. Following the discovery, the U.K. removed Denmark from its travel-corridors list and introduced quarantine for arrivals from the region from Friday.
The government said it will review the new measures in one week.
At a briefing late on Thursday, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the Covid mutation, which originated in the western peninsula of Jutland, has now also been identified in at least one person in the country’s east, closer to capital Copenhagen.
Danish health officials say they know of 12 people infected with the new virus. On Friday, local media reported that over 200 people have contracted various forms of coronavirus mutations stemming from mink, 14 of whom were outside the region in which it originated.
Denmark recorded 1,427 new coronavirus cases Friday, the highest number yet, though health authorities said the figure also reflects an increase in testing.
Kare Molbak, Denmark’s top epidemiologist, said WHO representatives are “very worried” about the findings in his country. Denmark so far hasn’t received reports from other countries with large mink populations, such as the Netherlands, of similar outbreaks. Denmark’s situation is “unique,” he said.
People who have contracted the new form of the virus don’t appear to be suffering more severe symptoms, according to Danish health officials. The virus was probably transmitted to the mink from humans, and then back again.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.