Covid cases cause more factory shutdowns in Europe

A meat processing plant in Belgium and a slaughterhouse in Denmark are the latest to put a stop to operations following outbreaks of Covid-19 among workers, joining a string of outbreaks at abattoirs and meat processing facilities around the world.

The pork processing plant in Westrozebeke in Belgium reported 67 COVID-19 infections on Friday, according to Reuters.

Westvlees tested and quarantined 197 workers from the meat cutting department of its plant in  West Flanders, on Wednesday after some employees reported infections.

The company has said it will test all 850 workers at the plant as a precaution, product manager Manuel Goderis said on Friday. The meat cutting department is closed and will reopen on August 17 at the earliest.

Meat processing plants in Ireland and Greece have also reported clusters of new infections this month, while countries including Germany, the United States and Australia have seen major outbreaks in the industry.

Danish Crown decided to halt operations for a week in its slaughterhouse in Ringsted due to a large number of COVID-19 infections among workers.

Group CEO Jais Valeur said: “It is violent to be in a situation where almost 150 employees are infected and many of them are ill. It hurts all of us at Danish Crown.

“We have always known that a shutdown could be necessary. The development in the infection numbers over the past week does not indicate an explosion in the spread of infection, but conversely, the intensive test program has not succeeded in containing the infection as hoped. That is why we are now taking the consequence and closing down the slaughterhouse.”

The plant has around 600 workers and more tests are to be conducted. All employees at the slaughterhouse must now consider themselves close contacts to the infected, meaning they must follow the authorities’ instructions regarding self-isolation and testing.

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