New E. coli sicknesses declining

BERLIN – THE number of people falling sick as a result of E. coli contamination has slowed to a trickle, Germany’s national disease control center said on Tuesday, even as the death toll from the outbreak rose by one to 37.

The Robert Koch Institute said a total of 3,235 people in Germany have been reported ill, only seven more than the previous day.

Germany’s health minister has cautioned that even though the outbreak is waning further deaths are possible. The local council in the northern town of Celle said a two-year-old boy died overnight, news agency DAPD reported. German authorities have narrowed the source of the outbreak to vegetable sprouts from a farm in the north of the country.

Thirty-six people in Germany and one in Sweden have now died in what has been the deadliest outbreak of E. coli ever. The crisis has devastated farmers across Europe as frightened consumers shunned vegetables after German authorities initally advised people against eating cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce.

On Tuesday, the European Union approved a 210 million euro (S$373 million) compensation package for fruit and vegetable farmers.

EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said the compensation was ‘an important signal for fresh vegetable growers because I was very keen to show that Europe can react quickly’ to the outbreak. Mr Ciolos initially proposed 150 million euros for struggling farmers. But under pressure from big producers like Spain, Italy and France, he had to offer more help. — AP

New E. coli sicknesses declining

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