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New strain Travellers from Denmark to Ireland must self-isolate following Covid outbreaks at mink farms

It follows an outbreak of a mutated form of Covid-19 in the Danish mink population.

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People wearing protective face masks in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport (PA)

People wearing protective face masks in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport (PA)

People wearing protective face masks in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport (PA)

Ireland will introduce a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for people arriving from Denmark following an outbreak of Covid-19 in the country’s mink population.

Northern Ireland introduced the measure on Saturday morning and First Minister Arlene Foster spoke with the Taoiseach about implementing a joint approach.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has now confirmed that the Republic will also introduce the measure.

He said: “People will have to self-isolate for 14 days no matter what. People coming from Denmark, there isn’t huge numbers, but we are following the health advice, similar to what’s going on in the UK.”

Even essential workers will be required to isolate for 14 days after it emerged the new strain of virus has spread from mink to humans in the Scandinavian country.

In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said they had been following developments worldwide in relation to Covid-19 in animals, "including mink".

"Since June, the Danes had implemented a phased response to controlling the spread of the disease with a limited cull of infected farms. The recent developments in Denmark in relation to potential impact on future vaccine efficacy is of concern," the department added.

A spokesperson said the Department has written to mink farms in Ireland "on a number of occasions this year" and continue to provide them with information on the spread of the virus animals.

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Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (Julien Behal/PA)

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (Julien Behal/PA)

A mutated form of coronavirus in the mammals, which are widely bred for their fur, has led to a nationwide cull in Denmark and sent parts of the country into lockdown.

While the mutated strain is not believed to be more dangerous, public health officials fear it could undermine the efficacy of a future vaccine.

However, Mr Ryan admitted that self-isolation will not be enforced and people will be relied upon to follow the guidance themselves.

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“We have to, that is the approach we have taken. If we have to change that we’ll look that. This continues to evolve in every aspect of how we manage Covid-19,” he told RTE.

“We will treat Denmark differently. We won’t provide European exceptions. The same standard European approach won’t apply for Denmark.”

Writing on Twitter, Mrs Foster said: “I’ve spoken to the Taoiseach & our Health Minister today about working together to safeguard people in both jurisdictions.

“The Denmark development is very concerning. Important we work together to keep everyone safe.”

The chair of the Nation Public Health Emergency Team, Cillian De Gascun, has played down the immediate risk of the mutated strain.

“I don’t think we have to be worried at this time” he said.

He said there was no sense that the mutated stain was “more virulent or severe” but said it could potentially impact on the efficacy of a vaccine.

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said: “Self-isolation for anyone who has been in Denmark is a mandatory requirement and it applies to all members of the household.

“This is an emerging picture and a precautionary approach is required at this early stage.

“We are in very close contact with public health colleagues in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

“The UK authorities are working closely with international partners to understand the changes in the virus that have been reported in Denmark. A programme of further research in the UK will inform risk assessments.”

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