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In tears, Danish PM apologises for handling of mink crisis

In early November, Denmark announced it would cull all of the country's more than 15 million minks after a mutated version of the novel coronavirus was discovered and believed to jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines.

Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen reacts as she meets journalists after visiting a closed and empty mink farm near Kolding, Denmark, on November 26, 2020. Picture: AFP.

Copenhagen - Wiping away tears, Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen on Thursday personally apologised for the handling of a crisis where a mutated version of the new coronavirus prompted the government to cull of millions of minks bred on farms.

The head of government was visiting a mink farmer in the municipality of Kolding, whose animals were euthanized despite being healthy, even though it was later proved the government had no legal right to do so.

"I don't have any issues with apologising for the course of events, because mistakes have been made," Frederiksen, told broadcaster TV2.

Visibly emotional, Frederiksen paused several times to wipe away tears, and stressed that it was important to remember that it was not the fault of breeders.

"It is because of corona, and I hope that can be a small light in the dark at this point for Danish mink breeders," she said.

In early November, Denmark - which is the world's largest exporter of mink fur - announced it would cull all of the country's more than 15 million minks after a mutated version of the novel coronavirus was discovered and believed to jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines.

However, a few days later the government acknowledged it did not have a sufficient legal basis to order the measure.

Agriculture Minister Mogens Jensen apologised and ultimately resigned last week.

Following Jensen's resignation, the Ministry of Health concluded that the potential threat to human vaccines was "very likely extinguished", in the absence of any new cases of the mutated version.

According to the latest tally, more than two thirds of the estimated 15 to 17 million minks in the country have already been culled.