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Denmark will dig up the corpses of millions of mink culled after a mutated form of coronavirus was found in farms.
More than 15 million of the animals have been slaughtered in the last month, decimating the Scandinavian nation's fur industry which is the largest in the European Union.
Now four million will be exhumed and incinerated after protests over the location of burial sites – with fears they could be contaminated.
Some of the mink that were buried in mass graves in a military area in west Denmark have begun rising to the surface of the soil due to the gases produced in the decay process.
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The two burial sites used for the mink have proven highly controversial, with one located near a bathing lake and the other not far from a drinking water source.
Danes have complained bitterly about a potential risk of contamination from the decaying mink.
On Sunday the ministry of food and agriculture released a statement announcing the government has gained approval to dig up the mink next year.
The exhumation won't take place until May, when officials believe the risk of coronavirus contamination from the remains will have passed.
"Once the mink are no longer contaminated with Covid-19, they will be transported to an incineration facility, where they'll be burned as commercial waste," the ministry said.
In November vets began gassing and burning millions of mink in farms across Denmark after hundreds of people were infected with a new strain of Covid-19 that passed from the animals to humans.
Experts warned there was a risk this new strain could prove more resistant to vaccines.
The UK placed a temporary halt on arrivals from Denmark after the discovery of the strain.
SARS-CoV-2, like all viruses, has undergone a number of mutations in the last year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced a raft of harsh new social distancing restrictions for the south east of England after alarming evidence that a new mutation being spread in these areas could be significantly more infectious than the normal strain.
Millions of people are now living under unprecedented Tier 4 measures with promised Christmas gatherings abruptly cancelled, the timing of which has been slammed by critics and MPs.
There are fears these could last until February.
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