Number of workers tested for COVID-19 rises at meat processing plant in Germany

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Tönnies abattoir in Gütersloz, Germany, closed due to Covid. Photo: NPA
Tönnies abattoir in Gütersloz, Germany, closed due to Covid. Photo: NPA

Related tags COVID COVID-19 pigs Meat Pork

The number of workers testing positive for COVID-19 at Tönnies abattoir in Gütersloz, Germany, has ‘reached an existential crisis’, with the owner saying it ‘thought it had done everything right’, to protect against the virus, despite claiming more than 1,000 victims.

We caused this and are fully responsible for it​,” said Clemens Tönnies, owner, Tönnies.

1,331 workers

The factory had already closed for an indefinite period, according to German media outlet DW but today the figure stands at 1,331 out of 2,000 staff tested.

As a result, local authorities shut down the plant and suspended all schools and daycare centers in the region until June 29. Around 7,000 people in the area have been put in quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus, it is reported.

This is the latest incident to hit German abattoirs, with several plants reporting outbreaks. The situation has put the spotlight on working conditions in meat plants and the working conditions of immigrant workers and has prompted a change in the law banning subcontractors, largely immigrants, from working in German meat plants from January 2021. 

Tracing the outbreak

Tönnies spokesman Andre Vielstädte said the business had worked "intensively" to 'keep the virus out of the company'.

As a company we thought we had done everything right,​” added its owner Clemens Tönnies, adding that the company had struggled to collect the personal data of employees and contractors so that authorities could trace the outbreak.

This is the latest in a number of outbreaks in German pork plants and is a big blow to the country, which is seeing a general upsurge in cases. 

On Thursday, China banned meat imports from the plant.

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