Denmark seeks to kill 15 million minks to limit coronavirus
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Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ordered on Wednesday that all 15 million minks in Danish farms be killed to limit the spread of coronavirus in the country. 

Frederiksen said a government agency determined that a mutation in the coronavirus found in 12 people in northern Denmark came from minks, The Associated Press reported. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said half of the 783 COVID-19 cases among people “are related” to mink. 

“It is very, very serious,” Frederiksen said. “Thus, the mutated virus in minks can have devastating consequences worldwide.”

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Official estimates found the cost of killing the minks could reach up to $785 million, as the government previously vowed to repay farmers. 

Mogens Jensen, the country’s minister for food, said 207 farms of the 1,139 in Denmark have infected mink, a jump from 41 recorded last month, according to the AP.

Seven mayors in the country, which is the main mink fur exporter, have ordered restaurants to shut down and encouraged residents to get tested amid the mink-linked outbreak. The coronavirus restrictions, which will be announced Thursday, will start on Friday and last for four weeks. 

Officials will also close the borders of seven northern municipalities, the mayor of Vesthimmerland told Danish broadcaster TV2, according to the AP. Only those with “critical functions” will be permitted to pass, the mayor of Frederikshavn said. 

The Humane Society International, an animal welfare group, praised Frederiksen for the order, calling it "essential" and adding it hoped it would contribute to the end of the fur industry.

“Although the death of millions of mink — whether culled for COVID-19 or killed for fur — is an animal welfare tragedy, fur farmers will now have a clear opportunity to pivot away from this cruel and dying industry and choose a more humane and sustainable livelihood instead,” Humane Society International-Europe spokesperson Joanna Swabe said in a statement.

Last month, the Danish government mandated the death of more than 1 million minks in northern areas due to the spreading virus. The outbreak was found among minks in late June, and 47 farms were under suspicion of having sick minks.

Denmark has recorded a total of 52,265 COVID-19 cases and 733 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.