A second Vion Food Group meat packing plant has been idled due to novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infections among employees. The most recent shutdown in the eastern Netherlands city of Groenlo, near the German border, took place after 147 out of 657 workers tested positive for the Covid-19 respiratory disease. All personnel have been ordered into home quarantine for at least two weeks by health authorities.
Expressing surprise at the latest outbreak in a statement issued on May 22 from headquarters in Boxtel (pictured above), CEO Ronald Lotgerink said: “We took all necessary measures to ensure the protection and health of our staff. We also meet all conditions to prevent contamination. Nevertheless, many employees appear to be infected. This is a new situation for us as a result of the circulation of the coronavirus in the border region. As always, we work closely with the various authorities.”
Reportedly, more than half of those infected are Romanian and Polish contract workers who live in Germany. They were typically transported to work daily by busses or vans.
A few weeks ago at least 28 mainly Romanian migrants working at a Vion meat packing plant in Scherpenzeel, Gelderland, tested positive for coronavirus and were quarantined on a boat next to an industrial estate in Arnhem. They were to remain under care there until recovering from the illness, according to a Telegraaf report posted at the DutchNews.nl website.
The story quoted spokeswoman Nancy Aschman as stating that about 900 of the 1,100 workers at Vion’s Scherpezeel plant were employed on temporary work contracts arranged by staffing agencies. She added that company “is doing all it can to prevent the virus infecting more members of the workforce, and that health experts are sure there is no danger of the virus spreading through eating bacon or other pork products.”
As of May 26, 2020, the official Dutch death toll from the coronavirus pandemic rose by 26 to 5,856, while the total number of confirmed cases of infection hit 11,823.
According to a report on the DutchNews.nl website: “The figures come just five days before testing is opened up to everyone who has symptoms, without a doctor’s referral. The system has capacity for 30,000 tests a day, and the results will be available within 24 hours. Experts say between 2% and 5% of all tests will be positive, which means officials will have to start upward of 600 contact tracing projects on a daily basis. Most deaths, new cases and hospital admissions are now in the port city of Rotterdam… on the basis of figures from the public health institute RIVM.”
The number of Covid-19 deaths per million in the Netherlands is currently 337.88, compared to 812.46 in Belgium and 298.26 in the USA.
Globally, the virus that originated in Wuhan, China late last year and thereafter spread to most of the world has been attributed to the deaths of 347,816 people. As of March 26, there were 5,459,244 confirmed cases of infection, according to data provided by Government and NGO sources.