The chairmen of the 25 safety regions in the Netherlands are deeply concerned about the way in which agriculture minister Carola Schouten is tackling corona infections at mink farms. She would not pay enough attention to the fear of local residents of the farms and would insufficiently coordinate her policy with the 25 security regions, which are united in the Security Council.

RTL Nieuws reports this on the basis of a letter from chairman Hubert Bruls of the Security Council. “Where the corona crisis started as a health crisis, it has increasingly become a source of social unrest and discomfort. This unrest is particularly prevalent in parts of the Netherlands, which have previously been confronted with health crises in relation to livestock farming and the handling thereof,” writes Bruls.

He refers to the course of events during the Q fever epidemic between 2007 and 2011. Many people in mainly Brabant developed Q fever from infected goats and sheep. More than a hundred people died. Many ex-patients are still experiencing the consequences of the disease.

During the Q fever crisis, the Ministry of Agriculture paid more attention to the goats and sheep than to the people who fell ill. There is now a fear, especially among mayors in Brabant and Limburg, that the approach to corona among minks is exactly the same. The fact that corona of mink has passed to humans in at least two cases feeds this fear.

Most mink in Brabant
Brabant, with 59 companies, has the most mink farms in the Netherlands. Gelderland followed with 28 and Limburg with 18. Meanwhile, 26 companies in Brabant and Limburg were cleared because corona was established there.

According to the Security Council, ‘extra attention should now be paid to parts of the country where trauma has previously been incurred as a result of a health crisis’, such as in Brabant with the Q fever. Bruls argues for an unambiguous approach and unambiguous communication. There, in his contacts with the Ministry of Agriculture about the approach to corona in minks, he went wrong.

Preventive clearance
A few weeks ago, the chairman of the Brabant-Zuidoost Safety Region, Eindhoven mayor John Jorritsma, pleaded for the preventive clearance of all mink farms, in order to end the unrest among the population. However, Minister Schouten was not in favor of clearing healthy animals and showed this through the media.

Chairman Bruls also writes in his letter that he calls on Schouten to ‘translate the signal from the Security Council into a decisive, integrated approach, which is achieved in close collaboration with all parties involved’. He invites the minister to discuss this with a delegation from the Security Council.

Minister accepts invitation

The Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Safety said in a response that Minister Schouten accepts the invitation and starts a conversation.