Germany's coronavirus reproduction rate jumps to 1.79: RKI

BERLIN (Reuters) - The rate of reproduction of the novel coronavirus in Germany has risen to 1.79 after a series of localized outbreaks, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for public health said on Saturday, far above the level required contain it longer term.
The number, a sharp increase of 1.06 on Friday, is a setback for the most populous country in the European Union, which has performed better in the pandemic than many European colleagues, mainly due to early testing and social distance measures.
The institute attributed the rise to a number of local outbreaks that have been observed in places such as meat packaging companies, logistics centers and refugee shelters. Outbreaks have also been linked to church services and family celebrations.
The Prime Minister of the West-North Rhine-Westphalia region warned on Friday of another blockage in the middle of a spiral outbreak in a large slaughterhouse.
"Since the number of cases in Germany is generally low, these outbreaks have a relatively strong impact on the value of the number of reproductions," said RKI. "A nationwide increase in the number of cases is not expected."
After short-term effects, the government-affiliated institute estimated the country's reproductive rate from 1.17 on Friday to 1.55.
A reproductive rate or "R" of 1.79 means that 100 people infected with the virus infect an average of 179 other people. A rate of less than 1 is required to gradually contain the disease.
Although coping with the coronavirus crisis is one of the most successful in Europe, outbreaks have occurred repeatedly in Germany in slaughterhouses, the employees of which are often migrants who live in crowded, company-provided accommodation.
Chancellor Angela Merkel preferred to keep the blocking discipline longer, but Germany finally relaxed the restrictions under pressure from the regional prime ministers.

(Reporting by Thomas Seythal; editing by Giles Elgood and Jan Harvey)

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