The Welsh Government has confirmed it will be introducing stricter isolation requirements for people travelling from Denmark to Wales from 4am today, Saturday.
Anyone arriving in the UK from Denmark overnight will be legally required to isolate for 14 days. This will not only apply to individuals, but to their households too.
This coincides with the UK Government’s implementation of immigration powers, which mean all non-British national or resident travellers who’ve been in or transited through Denmark in the last 14 days will be denied entry into the UK.
Urgent action has been taken following reports from health authorities in Denmark that widespread outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 has been found in mink farms, with subsequent spread of a mink-variant virus to the local community.
It is feared the new strain could prove to be more resistant against a vaccine.
Health Minister, Vaughan Gething, said:
“This is a precautionary measure based on early evidence from Health Authorities in Denmark. By taking further action now, closing travel corridors and requiring individuals and their households to isolate, we aim to prevent risk to Wales and the UK from this new strain.
“Public Health Wales will be in touch with Welsh residents who have been in Denmark in the past 14 days to explain that we will require them and their households to isolate as an extra precautionary measure.
“These measures are being taken with the safety of the public in mind. These are early days and we need to take extra caution while we learn more about this developing situation.”
Danish government experts have insisted they are acting with an “abundance of caution” in imposing restrictions in the northern Jutland region in response to the outbreak and ordering the cull of 17 million mink on its commercial farms.
Several variants of Covid-19 that have infected mink have been detected in more than 200 human cases in Denmark, but it has been the one cluster of 12 cases that has caused particular concern.
The country’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, had said the measures were being put in place since the mutation of the virus could potentially have an impact on the efficacy of vaccines in development, but the experts stressed on Friday there was as yet no hard evidence to suggest it would.
The World Health Organization also offered a circumspect assessment of the risk from the new mink variant. Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO’s chief scientist, said on Friday it was too early to jump to conclusions about the implications of mutations in the virus found in mink.
“We need to wait and see what the implications are but I don’t think we should come to any conclusions about whether this particular mutation is going to impact vaccine efficacy,” she said. “We don’t have any evidence at the moment that it would.”