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20 Jun 2020

Deutsche Welle

Coronavirus: German slaughterhouse outbreak crosses 1,000

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The total number of people infected with the coronavirus at a slaughterhouse in northwestern Germany has risen to 1,029, up from over 600 earlier this week, according to officials.

The outbreak at the Rheda-Wiedenbrück meat processing plant, in the district of Gütersloh near Bielefeld, was made public on June 17. The plant is run by Tönnies – the largest meat processing firm in Germany.

The factory has been closed for 14 days following initial reports of the outbreak, said Thomas Kuhlbusch, the head of the crisis team...

A quarantine has been ordered for all 6,500 workers, most of whom are from Romania and Bulgaria and who live in cramped company-provided accommodation. More than 3,000 workers have been tested so far...

Despite the increased testing program, authorities have reported difficulties gathering the addresses of staff members...

The firm's representatives had spoken "calmly and factually" with officials and insisted that delays in handing over personnel data had been down to Germany's strict data protection laws. "It was data that we shouldn't really have accessed," added Ruff [joint managing director].

Clemens Tönnies, the other managing director, spoke of an "existential crisis" within his firm. He ruled out resigning, saying he wanted to lead his company and employees through the outbreak.