Germany: NRW’s Laschet says ‘lockdown cannot be ruled out' as COVID cases jump to 1,331

Minister President of North-Rhine Westphalia Armin Laschet said on Sunday that a «comprehensive lockdown» cannot be ruled out even though the spread of the coronavirus has already been traced and localised within the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, in Gutersloh district, according to officials. The politician assured that authorities and medical personnel have been doing everything to prevent the virus from spilling over into the general population of the district, which so far has been minimal While the number of confirmed cases has been significantly decreasing across the whole state of North-Rhine Westphalia in recent weeks, the Toennies premises have become a «large hotspot» of the virus. Laschet stressed that massive testing and compulsory quarantines might help to halt the spread. However, that is «a very complicated task,» according to the Minister President, as there are more than 1,300 properties where the people live. A small group of animal rights activists was filmed protesting outside the building where the press conference was held. Protesters were holding banners reading «What a mess! Shame on you» and «Stop the Tonnies system!» and wearing face masks with a sign «Stop eating animals.» Gutersloh County Commissioner Sven Georg said on Thursday that he believes European border openings caused the increase in coronavirus cases at the local meatpacking plant. The meatpacking plant owned by Toennies, as well as local schools and kindergartens, have been shut down after the outbreak. According to reports, the number of people at the plant who have tested positive for the virus has risen to 1,331 since Friday. All 6,500 workers and managers, as well as their families, are under quarantine.

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