Denmark, Italy and Spain are among six countries that have reported coronavirus cases in farmed mink, the World Health Organization said today.
The Netherlands, Sweden and the United States have also reported the presence of the coronavirus in mink to the World Organisation for Animal Health, the WHO said in a statement.
Denmark on Wednesday imposed strict measures on the north of the country over warnings that the virus had jumped from mink to humans, infecting more than 200 people. Of particular concern is a new variant of the virus, so far known to have infected 12 people.
The Danish government said the mutation could threaten the effectiveness of any future vaccine and ordered the culling of millions of mink, which are being farmed for their fur.
In its statement, the WHO emphasized that further scientific study is needed to understand any potential implications of the new strain, including for the development of a vaccine.
“It remains a concern when any animal virus spills in to the human population, or when an animal population could contribute to amplifying and spreading a virus affecting humans,” the U.N. health agency said.
The British government announced on Saturday it would impose an immediate travel ban on visitors from Denmark due to the outbreaks linked to mink farms. All non-British nationals or residents who have been in Denmark in the past 14 days are being denied entry to the U.K. as of Saturday morning.
In the Netherlands, the government agreed in August to permanently close all mink fur farms by March 2021 following a spate of infections. Millions of mink have already been preventatively culled, following an outbreak of coronavirus on approximately 70 fur farms.