Hundreds of Poles forced into quarantine on German farm - press

MARTIJN BEEKMAN/PAP/EPA

Due to an outbreak of coronavirus on an asparagus farm in the German state of Lower Saxony, which has infected 130 people, including Poles, workers are subject to 'labour quarantine' and unable to leave their place of work, Deutsche Welle reported on Tuesday.

Deutsche Welle reported that neither the company owning the farm nor the local authorities would say how many people had been hospitalised, although, unofficially, it has been said that five people are in hospital, one of whom is in serious condition.

The quarantine was imposed by the local sanitary authority on April 30. "Due to the diffuse occurrence of infections in the company, it was not possible to clearly identify people who had had close contact with those infected," a local authority spokesperson said.

Labour quarantine means a ban on leaving the living quarters with the exception of the workplace itself, with even meetings of married couples working on other parts of the plant also banned.

The living quarters are being guarded by security guards, Deutsche Welle reported, so that workers cannot leave them. The facility ensures lunch and dinner, however, basic shopping supplies and hygiene products days were delivered only a few days ago.

"We're like slaves," Deutsche Welle quoted one Polish worker as saying. "Our group is being watched by two security guards and they bring us only from home to work and back."

The farm, one of the largest asparagus producers in Germany, employs over a thousand people, of which 412 are Poles with many other workers coming from Romania. The workers accuse the farm of failing to maintain sanitary rules, reacting too late to the first cases and not giving information on the progress of isolation.

People going to work at the plant fear for their health and those that refuse to work under such conditions still have to pay for their accommodation, Deutsche Welle reported.

The farm's owner told local media the situation was under control and that the farm was operating a sanitary plan whereby "those who live together, work together." Workers are tested twice a week and security guards monitor the living quarters "to prevent the virus spreading."