Belgian meat processing plant confirms 67 COVID-19 cases

BRUSSELS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - A pork processing plant in Belgium reported 67 COVID-19 infections on Friday, one manager of the firm told Reuters, joining a string of outbreaks at abattoirs and meat processing facilities around the world.

Westvlees tested and quarantined 197 workers from the meat cutting department of its plant in Westrozebeke, West Flanders, on Wednesday after some employees reported infections.

The company will test all 850 workers at the plant next week, as a precaution, product manager Manuel Goderis said on Friday.

The meat cutting department is closed and will reopen on August 17 at the earliest.

“For now, there is no reason to believe that there will be other cases,” Goderis said.

Meat processing plants in Ireland and Greece have also reported clusters of new infections this month, while countries including Germany, the United States and Australia have seen major outbreaks in the industry.

A German abattoir was shuttered in June after 1,500 workers tested positive.

More than 16.000 U.S. meatpacking workers had been infected by the end of May, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A CDC report in April said conditions in meat processing facilities could help spread the virus, including work on fast-moving production lines that hinder social distancing, and the physical demands of the work which can make wearing face coverings difficult. (Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Jason Neely)