STOCKHOLM, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Sweden has banned mink breeding until the end of the year due to fears of new coronavirus mutations that might exacerbate the COVID-19 crisis.
A ban on the import of live mink has also been introduced.
"In the prevailing environment in a typical mink herd, with many individuals on a limited area, there are perfect conditions for virus multiplication and extensive spread of infection, with the risk of affecting both animal and public health," said Ann Lindberg, director general of the National Veterinary Institute, when the breeding ban was announced on Wednesday.
"Under current conditions, we therefore consider it inappropriate from an infection control point of view to increase the number of minks in the country through, for example, puppies," she said.
Infected minks were first discovered in Sweden in late October last year, but unlike in neighboring Denmark, no cases of mutated strains have been recorded at the country's fur farms. Whilst the fear of mutations has led to between 15 and 17 million minks being culled in Denmark, Sweden has dealt with the situation differently.
"We have gradually increased the requirements for biosafety on the mink farms and made several decisions with increasing restrictions, partly to try to prevent more facilities from becoming infected and partly to prevent infection from returning to humans," said Christina Nordin, director general of the Swedish Board of Agriculture.
At the same press conference, the government announced that it had commissioned the National Veterinary Institute and the Board of Agriculture to examine animal husbandry in Sweden to reduce the risk of infection from animals. They shall also propose further measures to minimize the risk of human-animal transmission.
On Wednesday, Sweden reported 4,183 new COVID-19 cases and 178 deaths. The country now has a total of 560,472 cases and 11,425 deaths.