Ban on mink transports and barn visits after Covid research
Mink can no longer be transported in the Netherlands, nor can people visit the animals on farms, according to a letter by two prominent ministers directed to the parliament on Thursday.
The new guidelines, laid out by the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, Hugo de Jonge and Carola Schouten respectively, are designed to minimize the risk of animal-to-human transmission of Covid-19. In effect, they put an end to the transport of mink and mink manure, ensure that hygiene protocols are in place for people exposed to the animals, and ban visitors from entering barns where mink are kept.
"These measures concern all mink farms in the Netherlands and not only those where there is an infection found it," added the ministers.
In addition, the guidelines stipulate that mink farmers must prevent dogs, cats and ferrets from entering and leaving mink farms as much as possible, and recommend that mink farmers with symptoms of illness be tested for Covid-19.
Schouten and De Jonge added that they will draw up a more complete recommendation after the Outbreak Management Team's zoonosis arm convenes next week. "All measures imaginable will be considered. We inform the House [of Representatives] on this as soon as possible next week," they wrote.
The news follows after weeks of concern around the risk of mink-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus, with Schouten asserting last week that a link between the two is plausible. Earlier this month, the government also made screening for Covid-19 antibodies compulsory for mink farmers, in order to keep an eye on the risk.