Denmark incinerates 4 million mink culled to curb COVID-19 mutations

Tim Barsoe, Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 29 2021 07:29 AM

Denmark incinerates 4 million mink culled to curb COVID-19 mutations 1
Signage prohibiting entry hangs by burial pits that contain culled mink during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Karup, Denmark, December 10, 2020. Andrew Kelly, Reuters/File

COPENHAGEN - Denmark this week began incinerating 4 million mink that had been culled to curb COVID-19 mutations but began to resurface from mass burial sites, prompting renewed health concerns.

The Danish government last year decided to cull all of the country's 17 million mink to curb a COVID-19 mutation and because the mammal was considered likely to host future mutations.

Some were buried in pits in a military area in western Denmark under two meters of soil only for some to resurface in less than a month.

Contaminants were later found under the graves in an examination carried out on behalf of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, prompting the government to order the incineration of the animals.

"There's not supposed to be any virus left, but we burn it at more than 1,000 degrees (Celsius), so if there were any virus left it would definitely disappear," said Jacob Hartvig Simonsen, the CEO of the ARC waste-management plant.

The contaminants were not coronavirus-related but were a result of the decomposition process.

Mink easily become infected by COVID-19 and infection is exacerbated because they are bred in large numbers and kept in cramped living conditions, the World Health Organization has said.

All of the 4 million mink are expected to be incinerated by mid-July.

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