Poland finds COVID-19 cases among mink farm workers

FILE PHOTO: Farmers on tractors take part in a demonstration against the Danish government's order to cull all the country's farmed mink to prevent human contagion from a mutated coronavirus strain, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Aalborg, Denmark, November 14, 2020. Ritzau Scanpix/Henning Bagger via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK./File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland has found 18 cases of coronavirus among mink farm workers as it continues tests among the animals, but does not believe the workers were infected by the animals, sanitary and veterinary authorities said.

Poland, which is a major producer of mink fur, started coronavirus tests among its farmed minks and checks among the workers earlier this month after a mutated virus was detected in farmed minks in Denmark, leading to a nationwide cull there.

While the authorities have not yet received results of the animal tests, it said that COVID-19 cases were confirmed among people connected with the farms.

The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate said there were 18 cases of infections among farm workers that were unrelated to each other. “Currently, there is no basis to conclude that minks were the source of infection for these 18 cases,” it said in an email to Reuters.

The inspectorate said it had analysed all infections among farm workers and their families since the beginning of the pandemic.

Veterinary authorities said earlier this month they had ordered tests in 18 farms in four administrative regions of the country. Industry groups objected strongly to the tests, worrying they could lead to a nationwide cull.

Poland is one of the world’s top producers of mink fur, with 354 farms, containing around 6 million minks.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Frances Kerry