Hundreds of Romanian workers at Germany’s biggest slaughterhouse have tested positive for the coronavirus, authorities said.
Some 650 Romanians out of a total of 1,300 employees contracted the virus at the Tonnies meat processing factory, in northwestern Germany, the Romanian foreign ministry said.
Romanians, Bulgarians and workers elsewhere in European countries are employed at the slaughterhouse, often through subcontractors.
Since the pandemic began, hundreds of Romanian migrant workers have been infected by the new coronavirus at abattoirs in Germany and the Netherlands.
Following the latest outbreak, local German authorities decided to close the schools and kindergartens in the region until the summer holidays to halt the spread if the virus.
Employees of the Tonnies meat processing plant have children at school or kindergarten in the area.
Some 7,000 workers were quarantined, and provided with food and other necessities.
North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister, Armin Laschet, chaired a crisis cell meeting on Sunday and decided to send mobile teams from the public health department, the Red Cross and police to test the residents in the region.
He said there was a significant risk of transmission, but hasn’t locked down the town where slaughterhouse employees live. Seventeen Romanians fled quarantine and there have been appeals for them to return.
With that in mind, Laschet appealed to foreign employees at the slaughterhouse not to leave the country and get tested, saying they would be treated in German hospitals.
Another COVID-19 outbreak was reported last week at an asparagus farm in Bavaria, where 85 Romanian seasonal workers tested positive for the infection.
In May, 200 Romanians working at a slaughterhouse in the German town of Birkenfeld near Pforzheim in the Black Forest in southwest German contracted the virus and one of them died.