Research: Covid-19 can potentially spread over 8m in meat processing facilities

Research based on the outbreak of Covid-19 at the Tonnies meat processing facility in Germany has suggested that Covid-19 can potentially spread over a distance of 8m.

The study also said that the first outbreak of Covid-19 at Germany’s largest slaughterhouse originated from “just a single employee”.

According to the study, the outbreak originated from when an employee came into contact with workers from a neighbouring facility who were infected with Covid-19.

The research was carried out by a joint study of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, the University Medical Center Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf and the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology.

The study also concluded that most workers who were within an 8m radius of the employee who had Covid-19 also tested positive for the virus.

Professor Adam Grundhoff, co-author of the report, said:

“Our results indicate that the conditions during cutting enhance the aerosol transfer of Covid-19 particles over longer distances.

Think of the lower temperature, a limited input of fresh air and a constant air circulation because of the room’s air conditioning, in combination with heavy manual labour.

“It is very likely that these factors in general play a crucial role in outbreaks all over the world in meat or fish processing companies. Obviously, under those conditions, a distance of 1.5m to 3m is insufficient to prevent transmission.”

The researchers added that “immediate action is required to place in quarantine all employees in a radius [around the infected person], which can be considerably larger than 2m”.

Although we have noticed transmission in an area of roughly 8m, it is important that exact transmission distances will vary substantially, depending on set up and company circumstances.

Over 1,500 workers in Tonnies were found to have tested positive for Covid-19 and the facility was closed in June. A partial reopening of the facility was undertaken in mid-July, but the facility has yet to reopen fully.

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