Tuesday 2 March 2021
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American slaughterhouses were conduit for corona infections

The major American slaughterhouses and meat processing companies have acted for their employees this spring as a conduit for covid 19 contamination.

About 300,000 employees contracted corona at their workplace and took it home. That led to about 4,300 to 5,200 deaths, according to a study by the Academy of Sciences in the United States.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has examined the consequences of the government's decision to declare the food supply a 'strategic necessity' and keep it open in the corona outbreak and the closure of many businesses.

While the US has tried to strike a balance between limiting the spread of corona and keeping essential supplies open, preliminary research results suggest that livestock processors have increased COVID-19 infestations in multiple communities.

Temporary plant closures were followed by stronger declines in contamination rates than in regions where meat processing plants and slaughterhouses remained open. According to the researchers, the results suggest that the processing of livestock may pose a particularly high risk to public health.

The link between the increase in infections and the livestock farms was most pronounced in the largest factories. Abattoirs with waiver for higher line processing speeds were associated with a greater increase in contamination than non-waiver facilities.

Previous German research had already shown that the (low) temperature and (high) humidity in the slaughterhouses and refrigerated warehouses provide a good climate for the survival of the virus. It was not the livestock or the meat that transmitted the virus, but the sick employees infected each other. In many American meat factories, it was only late that something was done about the working conditions in the workplace.

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