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Germany reinstates lockdown in two districts as new Covid-19 cases top 1,000

Police vehicles are seen outside the main Tönnies meat factory that had to be shut down because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak among its employees, in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, Germany June 20, 2020.
Police vehicles are seen outside the main Tönnies meat factory that had to be shut down because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak among its employees, in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck, Germany June 20, 2020. REUTERS - Leon Kuegeler
2 min

The reappearance of several clusters of the coronavirus have prompted German authorities to reimpose a lockdown in two towns. It's the first decision of its kind in Europe and concerns over 600,000 people.

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This comes as medical experts warn of a possible second wave of the epidemic in Europe which has already killed over 470,000 people worldwide.

German authorities on Tuesday reinstated lockdown measures in two neighbouring districts, the Canton de Warendorf and the Canton de Gutersloh, in northwest Germany where some 640,000 people live.

The measures come after 1,500 tested positive for the coronavirus at the Tönnies abattoir in the nearby town of Rheda-Wiedenbrueck that employs nearly 7,000 people.

As of Sunday, 21 people were being treated in hospital, six of them in intensive care.

Although residents do not need a permit to go out, public places such as bars, cinemas, concert halls, museums, and sporting facilities are closed until at least 30 June.

Schools and kindergartens have also been closed ahead of school holidays which will start this weekend.

"The objective is to calmly take stock of the situation", Armin Laschet, government representative of the North Rhine Westphalia Region told the press.

Massive testing drive underway

"It's important to do testing to see if the virus has gone beyond the employees of the abattoir," he said.

The residential area near the plant where many of the employees live has been put into quarantine according to local media.

Despite other new clusters reported in Lower Saxony and Berlin last week, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) disease control centre remained optimistic on Tuesday that the virus remains under control in Germany.

So far, Germany has seen 8,986 deaths and reported 192,778 cases.

Meanwhile, in France, the scientific council in charge of giving recommendations to the government on handling the epidemic said on Wednesday that it is highly likely that France will see a second wave of the virus in the coming months.

Experts warn that although the virus will appear to slow down during the summer months, countries in Europe will need to be vigilant at the onset of winter.

They estimate that only 5 percent of the French population has been immunised against the Covid-19 strain.

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