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COVID-19: Britain removes Denmark from travel corridor list

COVID-19: Britain removes Denmark from travel corridor list
Britain on Friday removed Denmark from its list of so-called travel corridor nations as it battles skyrocketing infections at home with new restrictions ordering all non-essential businesses, such as restaurants and cafes, to close. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

Nov. 6 (UPI) -- As it battles skyrocketing infections at home, Britain on Friday said arrivals from Denmark will need to self-quarantine for 14 days in light of the Scandinavian country announcing it has discovered a mutated strain of the coronavirus in mink that could affect the efficacy of a potential vaccine.

Grant Shapps, Britain's secretary of the Department for Transport, made the announcement Friday in a statement saying he had removed Denmark from his country's list of so-called travel corridor nations from where arrivals do not need to self-isolate.

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He said the measure will go into effect Friday at 4 a.m. "as a precautionary measure given recent developments."

"I understand that this will be concerning for both people currently in Denmark and the wider UK public, which is why we have moved quickly to protect our country and prevent the spread of the virus to the UK," Shapps said.

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On Thursday, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced restrictions against travel and visiting bars and restaurants for some 280,000 people in northern Denmark where cases of a mutated strain of COVID-19 linked to mink had been discovered.

"From tonight, citizens in seven areas of North Jutland are strongly encouraged to stay in their area to prevent the spread of infection," she told reporters. "The eyes of the world are on us."

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Denmark, the largest producer of mink fur in the world, has ordered the military to slaughter its nation's supply of mink, affecting up to 17 million animals bred on more than 1,000 farms in its northern region.

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Frederiksen said she sympathizes with the farmers affected but that it is necessary as evidence shows the mutated strain of the virus prevents the human body from producing antibodies, possibly affecting the efficiency of a vaccine.

The World Health Organization tweeted Thursday that it was aware of "a number of people infected with coronavirus from mink, with some genetic changes in the virus" in Denmark.

"We are in touch with the Danish authorities to find out more about this event," the U.N. health body said.

Danish health authorities in North Jutland announced in a statement that they were preparing to mass test the 280,000 citizens for the mutated virus, describing the endeavor as "an enormous logistical task."

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"We are well underway with this planning work, but are awaiting further instructions from the state authorities," the statement said.

Britain made the announcement less than a day after it removed Germany and Sweden from the list of travel corridor nations, requiring new arrivals from the two countries to self-isolate for 14 days starting Saturday at 4 a.m. due to an increase in coronavirus cases in the nations.

"There has been a consistent increase in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of the population in Germany over the past four weeks with a 75% increase in total cases of this time period. In Sweden, new cases per week have increased by 34% over the same time period," the department said in a statement.

Britain on Thursday instituted new national restrictions ordering residents to stay home except for when going to work, attending school or performing essential activities, as it battles increasing coronavirus infections.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have tallied more than 1.12 million infections in Britain amid the pandemic. However, cases have been climbing since the summer and skyrocketing since October. On Thursday, the country reported 24,164 cases, which fell short of its record 26,707 cases registered on Oct. 21.

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Britain's new regulations also close businesses such as non-essential retail stores, leisure and sports facilities, movie theaters and hospitality venues including cafes restaurants and bars, among a slew of others.

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