Not all slaughterhouses screened for coronavirus outbreaks

Despite a number of coronavirus outbreaks in slaughterhouses around the world, by far not all the employees of slaughterhouses in the Netherlands are being tested for the virus. For example, GGD Hart voor Brabant only tested a sample of workers at the Vion slaughterhouse in Boxtel, and did not visit the Vion in Tilburg and Vtielco in Den Bosch, Brabants Dagblad reports.

"The question is whether we will do that," a spokesperson for GGD Hart voor Brabant said to the newspaper. "That partly depends on consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality."

A large number of slaughterhouse workers around the world have tested positive for the coronavirus. In the Netherlands, that happened in Helmond and Groenlo. Last week Minister Carola Schouten of Agriculture said: "We asked the GGD to test at all slaughterhouses." She also warned that slaughterhouses will be shut down if they do not protect their employees properly. 

But in a letter recently sent to parliament, Schouten and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge wrote that it is not possible to immediately test slaughterhouse personnel everywhere. "Because it concerns a large professional group of almost 25,000 people, the approach is risk-oriented and phased," they said. The slaughterhouses are randomly tested per region. If workers test positive, contact tracing follows. Employees in five large slaughterhouses and a number of small family businesses have now been tested, they said. 

A spokesperson for the GGD GHOR, the umbrella organization that covers the health services, told Brabants Dagblad explicitly that not all slaughterhouses will be tested. "We go to the scene when there are signs that several people have symptoms somewhere. But there is no specific policy for the meat processing sector."