1st LD: Germany records sharpest increase in new daily COVID-19 cases since June

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BERLIN, July 24 (Xinhua) — Registered COVID-19 cases in Germany saw the sharpest daily increase since June, growing by 815 within one day to 204,183, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) announced on Friday.

According to the RKI, 9,111 people in Germany have died in connection with COVID-19 so far. 189,400 people have recovered.

The RKI warned that there were still sporadic COVID-19-related outbreaks in old people’s homes and nursing homes as well as in hospitals, refugee facilities, day care centers and religious communities.

“There is not one central herd, but rather a general increase across the country. This makes the chains of infection more difficult to trace and less easy to interrupt,” virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told the German magazine Spiegel.

On Friday, local media reported that a slaughterhouse of Germany’s largest meat processing company Toennies was temporarily closed after a COVID-19 outbreak was hit by a second wave of infections as 20 employees tested positive. The infected employees had been working at the plant over the past few days.

In June, more than 1,400 employees at Toennies had tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the plant in the German state, North Rhine-Westphalia, had been closed down and contact restrictions on public life had been temporarily re-imposed in two districts.

According to a study by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) published on Thursday, the coronavirus which spread at the Toennies plant in May had been transmitted within a radius of more than eight meters by a single employee.

The main transmission had taken place in the deboning area for beef quarters, where air was circulated and cooled to 10 degrees Celsius, according HZI. Further factors that had promoted the transmission of COVID-19 at this specific area of the plant were a low supply of fresh air as well as employees engaged in straining physical work.

“It is very likely that these factors in general play a significant role in the globally occurring outbreaks in meat or fish processing plants,” said Adam Grundhoff, co-author of the study, warning that a distance of 1.5 to 3 meters was “obviously not sufficient to prevent transmission” under such conditions. Enditem

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