Coronavirus: Germany outbreak sparks fresh local lockdown

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Coronavirus: Germany outbreak sparks fresh local lockdown


Authorities hand out food supplies to quarantined employees of the Tönnies meatpacking plantImage copyright
EPA

Image caption

Authorities have sent supplies to the quarantined workers of the Tönnies meatpacking plant

German authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia are bringing back local lockdown measures after a coronavirus outbreak linked to a meatpacking plant.

More than 1,500 employees of the Tönnies plant have tested positive.

State premier Armin Laschet said the “preventative measures” in Gütersloh district, home to about 360,000 people, would last until 30 June.

It is the first such move since Germany began lifting its lockdown restrictions in May.

The country has been praised for its response to the crisis, but there are fears infections are rising again.

What’s happening in Gütersloh?

Mr Laschet described the outbreak linked to the Tönnies meatpacking plant, south-west of the city of Gütersloh, as the “biggest infection incident” in the country.

“We have decided that further measures are necessary,” he told reporters.

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Getty Images

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Police were sent to guard residential buildings for the plant’s employees

Bars, museums, cinemas and gyms must all close, and restaurants can only serve meals to take away. Stricter social distancing measures are back in force, meaning people can only meet one person from outside their own household in public.

There will also be a mandatory quarantine for all employees of the affected plant. Extra police will be deployed to enforce the measures, accompanied by translators to speak to migrant workers.

Mr Laschet said only 24 residents of the district who have no connection to the plant have so far tested positive for the virus.

Authorities have put up metal fencing around residential buildings where workers live and are distributing food to more than 7,000 employees.

All operations at the site were suspended last Wednesday. A spokesman for the Tönnies Group apologised for the outbreak.

Local authorities have the power to enforce different measures in their areas. Regulations differ from region to region.

This is not the only localised outbreak in Germany. A tower block has been placed under quarantine in the central German city of Göttingen, and police were sent to maintain order on Saturday after residents tried to get out.

Officials said those inside attacked officers with fireworks, bottles and metal bars. Most though have been complying with the quarantine.

What’s the situation in Germany?

Lothar Wieler, head of the nation’s public health body the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), told reporters on Tuesday the country was at risk of a second wave of infections but said he was optimistic they could prevent it.

Currently the reproduction rate – the R number which indicates how many people one infected person can pass the virus to – in Germany is estimated at 2.76.

But authorities have stressed the outbreaks remain localised.

The R number must be below one for infection rates to fall.

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Media captionWhat is the R number and what does it mean?



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