Fresh outbreak of coronavirus in Germany

Germany has announced a fresh coronavirus lockdown in its most populous state after an explosion in infections.

More than 1,500 people have tested positive for the virus at the Toennies slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrueck.

Thousands have been put under a quarantine to try to halt the outbreak.

The infections were all linked to an abattoir.

The new measures come amid fears of a second COVID-19 wave.

Germany’s R number – the rate at which the disease is transmitted – has soared in recent days.

Armin Laschet, the governor of North Rhine-Westphalia state, said people in Guetersloh county should only have contact with their own household or one person from outside.

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He said cinemas, fitness studios and bars will be closed, although restaurants can continue to cater to people from the same household.

Germany was among the first European countries to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

The country had fared better than many of its European neighbours as a result of an aggressive policy of mass testing.

But infection rates have shot up in recent days after people emerged from lockdown and businesses began to reopen.

The country’s R number has tripled to 2.88 in recent days, beyond the tolerable range, stated by Chancellor Merkel.