THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch authorities Sunday cordoned off two mink farms in the southern Netherlands after tests showed the animals had been infected with the coronavirus, most likely from human contact.
The farms are located east of Eindhoven in the Northern Brabant province, one of the region’s hardest hit by the outbreak which has killed more than 4,400 people and infected 37,000 others in the lowlands country.
“The mink showed various signs of the disease including breathing difficulties,” the Dutch agricultural ministry said in a statement.
Tests showed the furry animals suffering from COVID-19.
“As several employees at the businesses had symptoms of coronavirus, it is believed that they passed it on to the animals,” the ministry said.
Previous examples showed that the weasel-like animals “were susceptible to the virus,” it added.
“Currently there is no indication that domestic or farm animals play any role in the spread of COVID-19… and there is no risk that the viral infection will be passed back to humans,” the ministry said.
“Human-to-human transmission is the driving force behind the current corona pandemic.”
Dutch Agricultural Minister Carola Schouten, however, ordered that a public road be closed off near the farms and advised people not to come closer than 400 meters (1,300 feet) of the farms.
Mink farmers are also ordered to report any respiratory problems or a jump in mink deaths to authorities.
Keeping mink for their fur has been a controversial issue in the Netherlands, with its highest court in 2016 ordering that all mink breeding must cease by 2024.
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