Number of coronavirus cases at Dutch meatpacking plant jumps to 147

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus at a Dutch pork processing plant near the German border has jumped to 147 since it was closed last week and workers asked to go into quarantine.

The Vion plant in Groenlo, located east of Arnhem and west of the northern German city of Muenster, employs 657 people, many of them German. Health authorities ordered it shut and the workers quarantined after 45 infections were detected on May 20.

Seventy-nine German workers and 68 Dutch workers at the plant have now tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“The size of such a group of people with positive tests is very worrying,” said Ton Heerts of the regional security agency VNOG. “Townships involved will try to answer questions from residents and support companies locally as much as possible.”

Regional health authorities are conducting a extensive track and trace program to see who infected workers may have been in contact with, Heerts said.

Coronavirus outbreaks have also hit meatpacking and abattoir workers in adjacent northwestern Germany.

Nationwide, the Netherlands has reported 45,236 cases of COVID-19 infections and 5,822 deaths, according to the latest Reuters tally.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Heinrich