A state of emergency has been declared in the municipality of Jonava, central Lithuania, due to a coronavirus outbreak at a mink farm.
Officials say more than 1,200 infected animals have died on the farm since the coronavirus was first detected there last week.
The farm is planning to cull 40,000 mink to contain the spread of the virus, and the state of emergency will allow it to claim compensation from the government.
Vytautas Kaminskas of Jonava Municipality said there is no clear practice yet on how to curb the spread of coronavirus on mink farms, because this is the first case in Lithuania, so they are trying to gather as much information as possible about the virus and its spread among animals.
People will not be affected by the state of emergency, because the measure is targeted specifically at the farm where the virus was detected, he said.
Diana Daina Šutovienė, head of the Jonava unit of the State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT), said more than 1,200 infected mink had already died of coronavirus and another 600 had been put down.
The farm is currently dealing with the coronavirus outbreak on its own, but the state of emergency will allow using municipal resources if needed, she said.
It is estimated that the farm had over 59,000 mink at the time when the coronavirus was detected there. Some 40,000 of the animals are to be culled, but the farm will try to preserve the rest to be able to continue breeding in the future, according to the VMVT inspector.
The farm is planning to cull between 4,000 and 4,500 mink daily starting on Wednesday, Šutovienė said, noting that it does not have enough workforce to do the work, because four of its workers have tested positive for the coronavirus and several more are in self-isolation.
The VMVT said last week that the virus was detected after testing samples from the Jonava mink farm, owned by Danmink. Vilkijos Ūkis, the company's main shareholder, also keeps its mink in the farm.
Two people working at a mink farm in the northern district of Radviliškis tested positive for the coronavirus at the end of last week. The director of Šiaurės Lapė, the farm's owner, has told BNS that all of the farm's 50,000 mink were killed on Friday, because the animals had reached the required maturity.
Lithuanian mink breeders are required to provide the VMVT with information on dead animals every week.
Lithuania banned imports of live mink from coronavirus-affected countries in mid-November.
Eighty-six farms in Lithuania currently have over 1.6 million mink, according to the VMVT.