I’M A CELEBRITY critters escaping into the countryside could spread Covid, fears Wales’ First Minister.
Mark Drakeford said today he fears the bugs could spread coronavirus if they escape from Gwrych Castle after trials on the ITV show.
It comes as it was revealed cops in North Wales are investigating if “non-native wildlife” – including cockroaches, maggots, spiders and worms – has escaped.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast today, the minister raised concerns and reminded viewers of the Danish mink crisis that has seen 17m animals culled after a coronavirus mutation.
Mr Drakeford said: ‘’We’ve worked carefully with the production company to make sure all the rules are observed and if there’s been some infringements it’s right that they are investigated. We would be concerned about non-native species being released.
“Your viewers will have seen the stories from Denmark recently about mink and coronavirus crossing species.
“We wouldn’t want to see non-native species being released here in Wales because of the risks that could pose to the health of other wildlife, but potentially, as in the Danish situation, the risk to human health as well.”
The critters could have the potential to cause irreversible damage to the wildlife in the 250-acre estate around the castle.
Gwrych Castle is located a mere stone’s throw away from a Site of Special Scientific Interest – Coed y Gopa.
Police began their investigations after TV Presenter and naturalist lolo Williams bought it to their attention.
However, a spokesperson for ITV has said: “All of the insects used on I’m A Celebrity are non-invasive species.
“They are only ever released in a contained area and collected immediately after filming.
“The bugs are UK-bred and are commercially purchased in the UK for birds and exotic animal feed for pets and zoo keepers in normal circumstances.
“Our insects have been donated to local wildlife sanctuaries, trusts and zoos for their exotic animal and bird feed after filming.”
A spokesman for North Wales Police said: “The matter is being investigated by officers from our rural crime team.”
Williams, 58, disputed the claims that the species are native, saying: “I’m not sure which species they’re releasing, but I can tell you they’re not native.’’
“We don’t have those cockroaches here in the UK and we certainly don’t have them in north Wales.”
He went on to say that whilst the trials are being conducted in controlled conditions, the campmates are going back to camp with the insects still on them.
“There are going to be cockroaches in every nook and cranny along their bodies, you’re going to tell me that every single one of those is found immediately? Of course it’s not,” he added.
Campmates have been at the centre of a few controversies this series, with the revelation that trials are tried and tested by the celebs before they’re seen to do them on live television.
ITV are also keen to avoid a crisis like on Strictly Come Dancing where Nicola Adams and partner Katya Jones had to pull out because of the virus.
Shane Richie, Sir Mohammed Farah and AJ Pritchard have supposedly been reminded of the importance of maintaining good hygiene.
The stars have been told that regular washing is a good way to keep the Covid-19 bug at bay by ITV officials.