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Fears grow over mutated COVID-19 strain in Danish mink

Updated

Key Points

  • Globally there are now 48.3 million known cases and 1.22 million deaths.
  • In the US, there are 9.5 million cases and 234,011 deaths.
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Britain imposes quarantine on travellers from Denmark over mink virus fears

Reuters

The UK is imposing a two-week quarantine on travellers from Denmark, following an outbreak of a rare mutation of COVID-19 in the Nordic country's mink farms.

"I have taken the swift decision to urgently remove Denmark from the government's travel corridor list as a precautionary measure given recent developments," UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

Denmark said earlier this week it had found a "unique" mutation of the virus that has the potential to derail work on developing a vaccine. Health officials in the country are coordinating their efforts to contain the outbreak with the World Health Organisation, which includes culling the entire population of mink, or up to 17 million animals.

There are nearly 1200 mink farms in Denmark. AP

At a briefing late on Thursday, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the COVID-19 mutation, which originated in the western peninsula of Jutland, has now also been identified in at least one person in the country's east, closer to the capital Copenhagen.

Danish health officials say they know of 12 people who have been infected with the new virus. On Friday, local media reported that over 200 people have contracted various forms of coronavirus mutations stemming from mink, 14 of whom were outside the region in which the mutation originated.

That's it from the blog for tonight

Thank you for reading with us. We're wrapping up the blog for this week - there won't be a Saturday blog. Enjoy your weekend.

  • The Australian government is expecting an imminent announcement on two-way travel with New Zealand.
  • The High Court has rejected a Victorian pub owner's challenge against the state's coronavirus lockdown.

  • Victoria's revamped overseas traveller quarantine program should allow arrivals to isolate at both hotels and in their homes and be led by a designated government minister and department that has ultimate accountability for any failures, according to an interim report handed down by the inquiry into the original botched scheme.

  • Denmark's State Serum Institute, which deals with infectious diseases, has found mink-related versions of coronavirus in 214 people since June, according to a report on its website updated on November 5.

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Britain seeing 50,000 infections a day

Reuters

New COVID-19 infections in England have stabilised at around 50,000 a day, the Office for National Statistics said on Friday, indicating a levelling off in the steep rise of cases even before England was pushed into a second national lockdown.

The ONS said there was an estimated daily 45,700 new cases per day in the week to October 31, down slightly from the previous week's estimate of 51,900.

"Incidence appears to have stabilised at around 50,000 new infections per day," the ONS said in its weekly infection survey. "The infection rate has increased in recent weeks, but the rate of increase is less steep compared with previous weeks."

An estimated 618,700 people had the disease during the most recent week, up from 568,100 the previous week.

That equates to an estimated 1 in 90 people, an increase in prevalence from 1 in 100 people the week before.

The ONS looks to estimate infection numbers in the community beyond those who have been tested, giving an estimate of prevalence that is unaffected by testing capacity.

Austria warns all its COVID-19 intensive care beds could be full within two week

Reuters

Austria warned on Friday that all its COVID-19 intensive care beds could be full within two weeks because of the "much stronger, more serious" second wave of coronavirus infections.

There was a sharp drop to 6464 new infections within 24 hours from a record 7416 the day before, but Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said the number was still alarming.

"The second wave is much stronger, more serious, more dynamic and more powerful," he told a news conference.

The coffee houses in Vienna's Ferstel Passage have been closed. 

Forty-one people died in the latest reporting period, and 421 were in intensive care.

Since Tuesday, a nighttime curfew has been in force and cafes, bars and restaurants are closed to all but take-away service. Factories, shops, kindergartens and primary schools remain open, while secondary schools and universities have switched to distance learning.

The director general of the National Public Health Institute, Herwig Ostermann, said his projections indicated that, even with these measures in place, 750 of Austria's 800 intensive care beds reserved for COVID-19 patients were likely to be filled by Nov. 18.

WHO looking at biosecurity in countries with mink farms

Reuters

Health authorities appear increasingly concerned about the outbreak of mutated Danish mink coronavirus:

The World Health Organisation said on Friday it was looking at biosecurity in countries where there are mink farms after Denmark ordered a nationwide cull of the animals due to a widespread coronavirus outbreak among them.

Maria van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for COVID-19, told a WHO news briefing in Geneva that the transmission of the virus between animals and humans was "a concern". The risk was much lower in animals other than mink, a second WHO expert said.

"We are working with regional offices... where there are mink farms, and looking at biosecurity and to prevent spillover events," van Kerkhove told a WHO news briefing in Geneva.

Denmark finds mink-related coronavirus in 214 people

Denmark's State Serum Institute, which deals with infectious diseases, has found mink-related versions of coronavirus in 214 people since June, according to a report on its website updated on November 5.

One strain of the mutated coronavirus, which has prompted Denmark to cull its entire herd of mink, has however only been found in 12 people and on five mink farms so far.

The country has culled 15 million mink in an effort to eradicate a mutated coronavirus strain that has infected minks and jumped to humans.

WA has one new case

Western Australia has one case of coronavirus - a man in his 30s who has returned from overseas and is in hotel quarantine.

The state's total is now 776.

To date 751 people have recovered from the virus. WA Health is monitoring 16 active cases.

Yesterday 331 people presented to WA COVID-19 clinics – 322 were assessed and 321 swabbed.

There have been 501,428 COVID-19 tests performed in WA. Of those tested, 84,371 were from regional WA.

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France's iconic Shakespeare and Company bookshop begs for help

AP

Shakespeare and Company, the iconic Paris bookstore that published James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922, is appealing to readers for support after pandemic-linked losses and France's spring lockdown have put the future of the iconic Left Bank institution in doubt.

“We’ve been [down] 80 per cent since the first confinement in March, so at this point we’ve used all our savings,” Sylvia Whitman, daughter of the late proprietor George Whitman, told the Associated Press. Paris entered a fresh lockdown on October 30 that saw all non-essential stores shuttered for the second time in seven months.

Since asking for help in an email to customers, Whitman says she has been “overwhelmed” by the offers Shakespeare and Company has received. There have been a record-breaking 5000 online orders in one week, compared with around 100 in a normal week — representing a 50-fold increase.

Shakespeare and Company has attracted book lovers and tourists for decades on the Seine. Tony Wright

Support has come from all walks of life: from lowly students to former French President Francois Hollande, who dropped by the bookshop overlooking Notre Dame Cathedral before the lockdown in response to the appeal.

Many Parisians contacted Whitman to donate and to share memories of falling in love there or even sleeping among its bookshelves.

“[My father] let people sleep in the bookshop and called them ‘tumbleweeds.’ We’ve had 30,000 people sleep in the bookshop,” Whitman said, adding that it was one way the shop founders encouraged writers to be creative. Indeed, the motto on the shop wall reads: “Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.”

The outpouring of loyalty is perhaps unsurprising for the place often described as the world's most famous independent bookshop. Founded by Sylvia Beach in 1919, Shakespeare & Company became a creative hub for expatriate writers including Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce.

India tops 8.4 million cases

India recorded 47,638 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking its total to 8.41 million, data from the health ministry showed on Friday.

India has the world's second-highest caseload behind the United States, but has seen a steady dip in cases since September, in spite of the start of the Hindu festival season.

Deaths rose by 670 in the last 24 hours, taking total mortalities to 124,985, the ministry said.

'Let us in' virus-clear Victorians plead to Queensland

Patrick Durkin and Mark Ludlow

Rosana O'Meara is among thousands of Victorians sweating on a decision by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on whether their long awaited summer holiday to the Sunshine State can go ahead.

After being locked down in Melbourne with a six-year old being home schooled and four-year old twins since March, the family's $5,000-plus Hamilton Island holiday after Christmas has been the light at the end of the long lockdown tunnel.

"The accommodation operator are now telling us we need to cancel by the end of next week or lose everything," she tells AFR Weekend.

"We can't make other plans, we are just in the dark. Obviously there are people with bigger issues than just a holiday, families who haven't seen each other all year, but the idea of this holiday has kept us going."

Read the full story here.

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Summary | 5 Annotations
enmar
2020/11/07 04:25
2020Britain imposes quarantine on travellers from Denmark over mink
2020/11/07 04:25
two-week quarantine on travellers from Denmark,
2020/11/07 04:26
derail work on developing a vaccine
2020/11/07 04:27
stemming from mink
2020/11/07 04:28