SHARE
COPY LINK

HEALTH

Bavarian farm locked down after 174 workers contract coronavirus

Some 500 workers are in quarantine on a large Bavarian farm to contain a mass coronavirus outbreak, German officials said Sunday, as they announced free COVID-19 tests for worried local residents.

Bavarian farm locked down after 174 workers contract coronavirus
A security guard walks past a building housing farm workers in Mamming on Monday. Photo: DPA

A total of 174 seasonal workers have tested positive for the virus since Friday, Werner Bumeder, the district administrator of Dingolfing-Landau, told a press conference.

Most of the seasonal employees come from Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine, he said, and had been working in close proximity harvesting cucumbers at the farm in the municipality of Mamming.

On Monday, Bavarian health minister Melanie Huml (CSU) said that locals in Mamming would be able to access free testing in a tent which had been set up for them. 

“Especially in a situation like this, it's very important to offer this to the population here,” she said. 

Yet Bumeder stressed that the cluster appeared to be limited to “a closed group of people” and had not yet spread to the wider population.

READ ALSO: German slaughterhouse to continue operating after coronavirus outbreak

The farm's 480 employees and managers are all in lockdown on-site, with those who have tested negative staying in separate accommodation from those known to be infected.

The farm itself has been closed off from the outside world with a security team monitoring the quarantine.

Bumeder said the outbreak showed that the farm “did not consistently implement” hygiene regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

One of the infected employees has had to be hospitalised.

Mass testing

Huml said authorities were taking the outbreak “very seriously” and were racing to track down anyone who came into contact with the workers in order to break the chain of infection.

She said health officials would soon begin mass testing at other agricultural businesses in the region.

Residents of Manning who wished to get tested will be able to do so for free, she added, stressing that this could be particularly important for anyone planning to go away on vacation.

Germany has fared better than many of its neighbours in suppressing the virus, reporting just over 200,000 cases and 9,118 deaths to date, according to the Robert Koch Institute for disease control.

But the country has also been hit by repeated coronavirus outbreaks at slaughterhouses, keeping authorities on high alert.

Summer travel is another cause for concern, prompting Germany to announce free tests for holidaymakers returning from abroad.

READ ALSO: Germany to offer free coronavirus tests to returning travellers

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

SHOW COMMENTS