The small town of Gütersloh, in northwestern Germany, lives this week with the anguish of being the focus of a new coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Thousands of people have had to be quarantined after more than 650 workers from a meat processing plant tested positive for covid-19.
The factory has been closed for two weeks as authorities test more than 1,000 workers and thousands of people with whom they were in contact.
Everyone should remain quarantined until they receive the test results.
This brings the number of isolated people to about 6,000, according to local media.
A spokesperson for the company that operates the factory, the Tönnies Group, apologized for what happened.
Closing of schools
In response to the outbreak, local authorities have suspended until the end of the month. the classes in schools and childcare centers.
The chancellor Angela Merkel He said the measures taken to prevent further spread of the virus in the area “were welcome.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Germany has been widely praised for its management.
Despite having the largest population in the European Union, the country has recorded fewer than 9,000 deaths so far.
On Wednesday, the country announced that it will maintain the ban on large events until the end of October.
Slaughterhouses, focus of propagation
This is not the first time that a meat processing plant has been at the center of a coronavirus outbreak.
Germany itself agreed to ban the use of temporary workers in slaughterhouses after a series of infections in the cities of Münster and Coesfeld, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
These outbreaks have made the authorities look again at the bad work conditions in the sector.
Some of the workers in these factories lived in shared accommodation.
Other European countries have also reported outbreaks in slaughterhouses, including France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
According to him Financial Times more of 20,000 workers of meat processing plants in the United States were infected with covid-19.
The veterinarian of the Barcelona Public Health Agency, Marta Legido, explained in a radio program in Spain why there are so many coronavirus infections in slaughterhouses.
“The answer to this question is multifactorial. Since food has been a key sector during quarantine, these are workers who have not been confined. They have continued going to work the same as before, ”he said in statements to the Onda Cero network.
For Legido, this means that these workers have been exposed more and adds that in the cutting rooms of a meat installation it is very difficult to maintain social distance.
Gereon Schulze Althoff, head of Quality at the Tönnies Group, explained that some workers had recently visited their home countries after 10 weeks.
He added that some of them may have contracted the virus on his travels.
He also recalled that due to their temperature, processing plants pose a greater risk, pointing to the growing scientific evidence that low temperatures facilitate the spread of the virus.
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