Germany is struggling with more coronavirus outbreaks

Members of the emergency technical service secure an area within an apartment complex used by the Toennies meat company to house workers from Eastern Europe during the coronavirus pandemic on June 20, 2020 in Verl, near Guetersloh, Germany .

Alexander Koerner

A district in Germany where there has been an acute outbreak of coronavirus cases at a meat-processing plant is being closed again, the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia said on Tuesday.

State Prime Minister Armin Laschet said he was putting the Guetersloh district, home to about 360,000 people, under lock and key until June 30. The move comes after at least 1,000 workers at a meat-processing plant in the area hired Covid-19.

Bars, museums, galleries, cinemas, sports halls, gyms and swimming pools in Guetersloh will now be closed, and picnics and barbecues prohibited, according to Reuters.

Germany was praised during the coronavirus crisis in Europe as a country that had apparently managed to control the spread of the virus, largely through an organized and early contact tracking system, and that had kept the death toll across the globe. relatively low country.

Now, however, the country has seen a resurgence of cases due to several outbreaks located in different parts of the country. Rising reproductive infections or the ‘R’ rate (which refers to the number of people an infected individual infects, on average) to jump to 2.88 on the weekend (had dropped to 2.76) Monday, and it’s a 4-day moving average that reflects infection rates about a week or two ago.) Experts want to keep the R rate below one so they can control and slow down the spread of the virus.

The Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, which collected coronavirus data from Germany and reported an additional 537 cases on Monday, with a recorded total of 190,359, said the outbreaks mainly in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony are primarily responsible for the growing number of cases.

The RKI said that in addition to the outbreaks still seen in nursing homes and hospitals, outbreaks have been reported in several German states “including in institutions for asylum seekers and refugees, in meat processing plants and logistics companies, among workers harvest seasonally and in connection with religious events and family gatherings. “

The biggest contributor to the increase in cases has been an outbreak at the meat processing plant in Guetersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state with the highest number of coronavirus cases, with more than 41,000, according to RKI data.

More than 1,000 employees at the factory, the largest such plant in Europe and run by German meat giant Tonnies, tested positive for Covid-19, RKI said Monday. Some reports suggest that more than 1,300 people are infected at the plant, where some 7,000 people work.

The Toennies meat packing plant is found during the coronavirus pandemic in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck on June 19, 2020 near Guetersloh, Germany.

Sascha Schuermann

The plant closed quickly, and all employees (mainly Bulgarian and Romanian workers) were quarantined, as were members of their household, as authorities feared a rampant spread of the virus. All schools and daycare centers in the district also closed and will remain so until mid-August.

However, the outbreak at the meat-processing plant has caused a furor in Germany, and the country’s Labor Minister Hubertus Heil said Sunday that the meat-processing company should pay damages, according to public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

“There must be a civil liability for the company,” Heil told a Bild The online broadcast, Deutsche Welle reported, and Heil added that the company had “taken an entire region hostage” to the company, which it accused of violating coronavirus restrictions.

The head of the meat processing company, Clemens Tonnies, took to Twitter on Sunday and said the company “accepts its responsibility” and that it would pay for the tests for coronavirus in the Guetersloh district, but refused to resign after the crisis. .

The outbreak at the plant has highlighted working conditions within the meat processing industry in Germany, but it is not the only area that has seen an increase in cases.

The RKI said on Monday that a large Covid-19 outbreak in the Goettingen district of Lower Saxony dates back to family gatherings, and another, in Magdeburg in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, emerged in several schools that are now also closed. In Berlin, an outbreak of 85 cases has been linked to members of a religious community.