While more than 1,500 employees in a German slaughterhouse have tested positive for coronavirus, two municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia have ordered a reconstruction of their population. A total of 7,000 people have quarantined and about 20 are hospitalized. A scenario that revives the debate about working conditions in the meat industry.
This is the dreaded scenario and applies to two German cantons. Reconfiguration measures were reintroduced Tuesday, June 23, in two municipalities in North Rhine-Westphalia in northwestern Germany following the discovery of a new home for Covid-19. They will be in effect until June 30 in Gütersloh and in the neighboring town of Warendorf.
Bars, museums, galleries, cinemas, gyms, gymnasiums and swimming pools will be closed and picnics are prohibited. This reconfiguration concerns 360,000 in Gütersloh and 280,000 in Warendorf.
Working conditions in the meat industry
“This is bad news, we do not want to reconfigure ourselves, but it is not up to us to decide,” replies one resident. “I find it difficult for everyone when we find some freedom; we start enjoying again and everything stops again,” another complains.
More than 1,500 workers at a regional meat packaging plant received the corona virus. It is the largest slaughterhouse in the country, which has become the largest infection center in Germany, identified as such for a week. Some of the employees’ relatives were infected, as were 24 people who were not directly connected to the factory. A total of 7,000 people have already quarantined and about 20 have been hospitalized.
The goal of this reconfiguration: “calm the situation, increase screening tests to determine if the virus has spread beyond the slaughterhouse’s employees, to the people in the cantons,” explained Tuesday, Armin Laschet, President of the North Rhine-Westphalia country.
“It’s a preventive measure,” he added. “We will lift this measure as soon as possible,” when the outbreak of pollution comes under control.
First Teil # Shutdown in the district of Gütersloh is implemented. Schools at Kitas are closed. Quarantine is consistent for 7000 durchgesetzt, ie for Nicht-Infizierte, dies in Contact each. #RKI and further scientists are our place. Their recommendations follow further measures https://t.co/CsVMscTnLM
– Armin Laschet (@ArminLaschet) June 22, 2020
This new cluster resumes the issue of health insecurity in German slaughterhouses and the poor working conditions in the meat industry. In this slaughterhouse, the vast majority of workers are recruited by subcontractors and are located in collective, dilapidated and overcrowded apartments: all to promote the spread of the virus.
By drawing lessons from this episode – this slaughterhouse is not the first thing a cluster has encountered – the German government plans to ban subcontractors and increase health checks in the coming weeks and months.
Germany: More than 1300 cases of Covid-19 were discovered in a slaughterhouse
To deal with a second epidemic
Director of the Robert Koch Institute for Public Health (RKI), Lothar Wielera, said that the country is likely to face a second epidemic, but said he was optimistic about the country’s ability to avoid such a situation.
The reproduction rate of Covid-19 in Germany, or “R”, is currently estimated by the health authorities at 2.76, which means that if 100 people get the virus, they will in turn infect 276 others.
On Wednesday, Germany reported 587 new cases of coronavirus contamination, which means the total number of people infected was 191,449, according to data reported by RKI for infectious diseases.
The death toll has increased to 8,914, a further 19 deaths over the past 24 hours, according to RKI data.
With AFP and Reuters