More German abattoir workers test positive for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A truck carrying pigs arrives at the Toennies meat factory after its reopening in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, Germany, July 16, 2020. Germany's largest pork meat factory had to be shut down because of the recent coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak among its employees. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

Thirty-one more workers at a German abattoir hit by a coronavirus outbreak in mid-June have this week tested positive, authorities said on Friday.

Coronavirus outbreaks at several slaughterhouses in Germany have forced meatpacking plants to review cooling systems amid global concern over airborne transmission risks.

The Toennies plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck had closed in mid-June after about 1,500 workers tested positive for the COVID-19 disease. That outbreak in turn led to about 600,000 people in the surrounding Guetersloh region being put back in lockdown, which has since been lifted.

The plant reopened last week after a new health and safety plan was introduced including testing all workers twice a week for coronavirus.

Since then, 7,300 tests have been undertaken with 31 people showing positive, said a statement from the local government authority in Guetersloh. But only three were regarded as new infections and have been quarantined.

“From the view of the health department this cannot be viewed as a second wave,” the Guetersloh authority said, adding that positive tests mainly related to remainder infections from the first bout.

Toennies said the positive tests showed its system was working. “Because of the intensive testing we will naturally in the coming days and weeks again have positive results,” it added.

Germany has had more than 200,000 cases and over 9,000 deaths in total.