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Parliamentary questions
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27 May 2020
Priority question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 138
Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE)
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: COVID-19 transmission from mink to humans

A worker at a Dutch mink farm has been diagnosed with a strain of COVID-19 that has similarities with the virus identified in mink on that farm. Based on a comparison of the strains and the position of the virus isolates in the family tree, it has been concluded that the worker is ‘likely’ to have been infected by mink. This has been reported by the Dutch Government following a new investigation (1) . Previously, it had been assumed that animals had been infected by humans. It has also become apparent that mink can carry COVID-19 asymptomatically, as a result of which infected farms may remain undetected. Lastly, farm cats seem to have played a role in the transmission of COVID-19 between two infected mink farms. The Dutch Government has announced that further investigations will take place. Infected farms will remain open as normal, subject to a few additional safety measures.

1. Further mutation resulting in the infection of other (wild) animals could cause the virus to spread very rapidly. Is the Dutch Government not being too hesitant in its response? Should infected farms be closed as a precaution?

2. What is the Commission’s role in relation to health matters of this kind, which potentially have uncontrollable cross-border consequences?

3. This issue is not necessarily confined to the Netherlands and may also apply elsewhere in Europe. What will the Commission be advising and what action will it be taking on the basis of this information?

Original language of question: NL
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