Thousands quarantined after Germany abattoir outbreak

Thousands of people in Germany have been told to go into quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak at an abattoir.

More than 650 people have tested positive for the virus at the meat processing plant in Gütersloh, in the north-west of the country.

Operations at the site have been suspended since Wednesday afternoon.

Over 1,000 workers have been tested so far, with thousands of others still awaiting testing.

They and the people they came into contact with have been told to been told to remain in quarantine until they receive their results.

A spokesman for the company that operates the site, the Tönnies Group, has apologised.

In response to the outbreak, local authorities have suspended schools and childcare centres in the region until the end of the month.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she “welcomed” the measures to prevent the further spread of the virus in the area.

Germany has been widely praised for its managing of the outbreak. Despite having the largest population in the EU, Germany has recorded fewer than 9,000 deaths so far.

On Wednesday, the country announced it would extend a ban on large events until the end of October.

This is not the first time a meat processing plant has found itself at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak.

Last month, Germany agreed a proposal banning the use of temporary workers at abattoirs following a spate of infections in Münster and Coesfeld, North Rhine-Westphalia.

The issue has brought a renewed focus on the poor working conditions in the sector, with some of the meat workers in previous outbreaks reported to have been living in shared accommodation.

Other countries have also recorded outbreaks in abattoirs, including in France and the US, where workers in at least two food plants have died amid outbreaks.

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