German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a news conference after coalition meetings over stimulus measures to reboot post-coronavirus economy, at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany June 3, 2020.

John Macdougall/Pool via REUTERS

Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate surged to 2.88 on Sunday, prompting fears of a new outbreak and return to lockdown.

That figure means that for every one hundred people who contract the virus, a further 288 people will be infected.

The figure spiked after 1,300 people tested positive for the virus at a meat processing plant near the city of Bielefeld in western Germany.

Because it is an average, the R rate can sometimes surge due to localised outbreaks despite the total number of cases in a country remaining low.

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Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate has surged to well above the level needed to contain the outbreak, prompting fears of a second wave of infections in the country.

Germany’s Robert Koch Institute, which measures the country’s so-called R rate, said the figure had risen to 2.88 from 1.79 a day earlier. 

That figure means that for every one hundred people who contract the virus, a further 288 people will be infected. The figure needs to be below one in order for the number of new daily cases to be going down overall.

The figure spiked after 1,300 people tested positive for the virus at a meat processing plant near the city of Bielefeld in western Germany. The plant, which has 6,500 workers, is operated by food giant Tönnies.

The workers, who are mostly Bulgarian and Romanian, live in cramped company-supplied accommodation and have now been placed into quarantine, according to German-language newspaper Die Welle.

The shift has prompted fears in Germany of a new outbreak of the virus and a return to lockdown. Schools and daycare centres in the affected area have already been closed as a precautionary measure.

The R rate in Germany was 1.06 on Friday, meaning the rise occurred rapidly. The calculations are based on a four-day average of new cases. The seven-day R value, which tends to vary less dramatically, was 2.03, still over twice the rate needed to contain the virus.

Story continues

However, the number of daily deaths continues to decline in Germany. 14 deaths were recorded in the country on June 19, compared to 333 at its peak in April.

Because it is an average, the R rate can sometimes surge due to localised outbreaks despite the total number of cases in a country remaining low.

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