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German county forced back into lockdown after coronavirus outbreak at abattoir

A county in Germany’s most populous state has been placed back into lockdown after a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse.

More than 1,500 people from the Toennies plant in the Guetersloh county tested positive for COVID-19.

The abattoir previously said it had stopped slaughtering on Wednesday and was shutting down in stages.

Workers at the Toennis meat processing don protective clothing to ward off coronavirus
Germany: Rise in virus numbers ‘linked to meat industry’

Armin Laschet, the governor of the North Rhine-Westphalia region, which contains Cologne and Dusseldorf, said that residents in Guetersloh county should only have contact with their own household, or one person from outside.

Mr Laschet added that cinemas, bars and gyms would also close in an effort to contain the outbreak, but that restaurants could continue to serve people from the same household.

Schools and childcare centres were closed last week as a result of the initial outbreak.

The localised lockdown comes after the country’s R number rocketed to 2.88, meaning the virus is thought to be spreading exponentially.

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The governor said that the new measures will be lifted on 30 June, provided that the situation improves, but did not give any detail on how success will be measured.

Germany’s health ministry, the Robert Koch Institute, has warned the country be stay vigilant in the coming weeks, adding that despite restrictions being lifted across the country, the virus is still circulating and a second wave could be possible.

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Germany has been widely praised for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, after implementing testing, tracing and hospital preparation measures.

The reported number of deaths related to COVID-19 in Germany stands at 8,909 – almost five times lower than the UK.

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