Third meat plant closed in coronavirus scare, one in six workers test positive

Lamb carcasses in an abattoir's refrigerator. Photo:
Lamb carcasses in an abattoir’s refrigerator. Photo:

A third meat processing plant in the Netherlands has been closed after tests showed a large number of workers were infected with coronavirus.

This time, the Van Rooi Meat processing plant in Helmond, Noord-Brabant, was closed down after 21 out of 130 workers in a random trial had a positive test for Covid-19.

Local health board officials carried out the because two food safety board officials who had worked at the plant were found to be infected. It is unclear if the rest of the workforce will also now be tested.

The workers with coronavirus have been sent home for two weeks, as has everyone who shares their accommodation.

Earlier this week, two meat processing plants operated by Vion where shut down in coronavirus scares. The Groenlo abattoir was shut after one fifth of workers were found to have coronavirus. A second plant in Apeldoorn was shut for breaking official guidelines on transport.

Some 80% of workers in the Dutch meat industry are from eastern Europe and employed via staffing agencies on minimum wages. Many also depend on their employer for accommodation which is often overcrowded, making social distancing impossible.

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