Officials and farm workers on Saturday began the process of gassing thousands of mink on 10 fur farms where coronavirus has been found, and which may have spread from the animals to humans.
On Friday evening, judges ruled that the farm clearance could go ahead, despite protests by animal rights groups. They said the animals should be placed in quarantine.
But the court ruled that killing all the animals was the only option to guarantee public safety. On two farms, 90% of the mink were found to be infected.
‘Ten or more sources of the virus in a declining pandemic is a risk we don’t want to take,’ Christiaane Burshke, the farm ministry’s most senior veterinary advisor, told the Volkskrant. ‘We are relaxing the rules for people but if farms remain a source, that poses a major risk to humans.’
Coronavirus has been found in mink on 10 farms so far, nine in Noord-Brabant and one in Limburg. The Dutch fur industry is concentrated in the south of the country.
The first farm to be emptied of animals is in the village of Deurne where infected mink are thought to have passed the virus to the owner, who subsequently gave the virus to members of his family.
The Netherlands is currently phasing out fur farming, and all farms are due to be shut down by 2024.
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