Slaughterhouse COVID outbreaks in row prompt Germany to reimpose lockdown


Coronavirus outbreak in Germany slaughterhouses in a row has now prompted the nation to re-impose lockdown in two districts at least until the end of June.

On Tuesday, a new lockdown was imposed on Guetersloh and neighboring Warendorf in western Germany after over 1500 workers were found infected from COVID-19, all from a major abattoir, according to media reports.

Earlier this month, the Toennies, one of Germany’s biggest meatpacking facilities said in a statement that they’re shutting down in stages after many employees contacted the virus, Sky News reports.

Like several weeks ago

Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia where the slaughterhouse is located, announced the new measure, saying: “For the first time in Germany, we will return an entire district to the measures that applied several weeks ago.”

Slaughterhouse COVD outbreaks in row prompt Germany to reimpose lockdown (Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash)

The new lockdown is a result of Germany’s biggest outbreak since the country started to reopen in early May. Bars, gyms, cinemas, indoor swimming pools among others will be affected by the sweeping new restriction according to Armin Laschet, governor of the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

Late Tuesday, yet another slaughterhouse was reported to have COVID-19 outbreak among workers. This time 23 workers in a slaughterhouse in Lower Saxony is the latest slaughterhouse. Although, it is far dwarfed by the Westphalia case.

Worrisome condition

Questions were raised on the hygiene measures and workforce-health conditions in German slaughterhouses since one-after-the-other cases of cluster outbreaks of coronavirus have been surfacing from such facilities since May.

Reports suggest constricted living quarters for the workers and the nature of the job prevents social distancing measures among themselves. Critics of the industry have even argued the working conditions in some German slaughterhouses are equivalent to “modern slavery.”

Germany was praised for the prompt imposition of lockdown and strict testing, containing and tracking measures when the outbreak spread in the nation. However, now, authorities fear a more widespread outbreak of the virus from the current localized cases.

German slaughterhouses have been under controversy for decapitated hygiene measures for workers (Image courtesy of IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (Attribution CC 2.0 Generic)

“There is something in general about the conditions at these meat-processing plants … that seems to give optimal conditions to the virus spread,” Thomas Kamradt, president of the German Society for Immunology, told CNBC Wednesday.

“The important thing now is to try and contain this outbreak and prevent it from entering the general population and making it unstoppable,” he added. “Currently it’s very localized and the important thing is to keep it like that and prevent it from further spreading.”

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