1,000 Romanian workers working at a slaughterhouse in northwestern Germany, have tested positive for Covid-19, the latest outbreak to sicken Romania’s migrant workers, the foreign ministry said.
Initially, authorities said that 650 Romanians had been infected at the meat processing plant in Tonnies, which employs about 4,000 Romanians, but on Thursday announced that the number of cases had increased.
After the outbreak, German authorities imposed a lockdown in the region. People who are in quarantine are provided with food and basic necessities. A special Romanian-language hotline has been set up.
The abattoir, owned by Tonnies meat processing group, slaughters 50,000 pigs a year, the Financial Times reported. There is growing criticism about the poor working and living conditions of employees, many of whom are migrant workers from Romania and Bulgaria and are hired through an intermediary company.
Union officials and politicians have criticized the working conditions at abattoirs which enable consumers to buy sausages and veal for schnitzels at low prices, the FT reported.
Separately, 100 Romanians living in the central German city of Magdeburg have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Romania’s oreign ministry said.
Local authorities have placed more than 500 Romanians living in 19 separate residences in quarantine. Police are monitoring the homes to ensure that the quarantine are respected.
People in quarantine are receiving food and other essentials. A phone line in German and Romania was set up on June 23 to give advice or where residents can request food and other necessities.
Last week, another Covid-19 outbreak was reported at an asparagus farm in Germany’s southeast Bavaria region, where 85 Romanian seasonal workers tested positive for the infection.
Since the pandemic began, hundreds of Romanian migrant workers have been infected by the new coronavirus at abattoirs in Germany and the Netherlands.
Romanians, Bulgarians and workers elsewhere in European countries are employed at the slaughterhouse, often through subcontractors.
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.
Some 7,000 workers were quarantined, and provided with food and other necessities.
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. One person died.