A series of Danish towns are in lockdown after an outbreak of a mutated form of coronavirus spread from minks to humans.

Danish authorities have asked residents in the North Jutland region not to leave their home municipalities amid growing fears over the spread of the deadly virus.

It comes as the national government announced it will cull its mink population of up to 17 million in an effort to minimise the risk of them re-transmitting the new version of coronavirus to humans.

The mutation has now been found in 12 people in the North Jutland region, according to a government agency report that maps the coronavirus in Denmark.

Seven municipalities where there are confirmed coronavirus cases in mink are now to be locked down with residents told to remain within their local areas. 

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

Restaurants, cafes, sports and cultural activities are to be shut for the next four weeks whilst schools and day care facilities will remain open, the mayor said.

Speaking about the need for widespread coronavirus testing in the region, Laursen said: ‘The next thing we need to get started on is a massive testing of our citizens.

‘I hope that something will be done there so that we can fulfill that wish. There will be a task force that will take care of the situation so that we can get help from various ministries.’

He continued: ‘Until a few days ago, we were low on the [number of] infections, but then it suddenly went completely wild.

‘It will be a dark time.’   

The lockdown comes as the nation’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said on Wednesday that the mutated virus in farmed minks could have ‘devastating consequences worldwide’ and action to cull the population was ‘necessary’. 

Frederiksen told a press conference: ‘We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well.’ 

‘The mutated virus in mink may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future vaccine,’ the Prime Minister said, adding that it ‘risks being spread from Denmark to other countries.’ 

Denmark is one of the world’s main mink fur exporters, producing an estimated 17 million furs per year.

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