Berlin CNN  — 

The reproduction number (R) of the coronavirus in Germany has risen sharply, the country’s center for disease control has said, after an outbreak at a meat processing plant infected hundreds of workers.

The value indicates how much the virus is spreading in the country. A reproduction rate of 1 means each person with coronavirus will infect an average of one other person.

Data published by the Robert Koch Institute puts Germany’s R-number at 2.88. Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said that Germany needs to keep the number below 1 if the country is to successfully combat the virus.

In May, Germany’s R-number had fallen to 0.75. The Robert Koch Institute has linked its subsequent rise to a local coronavirus outbreak at a meat processing plant in the town of Gutersloh.

Authorities in Gutersloh announced on Sunday that they had recorded 1,331 positive cases at the Toennies meat processing factory.

“Since case numbers in Germany are generally low, these local outbreaks have a relatively strong influence on the value of the reproduction number,” the RKI said Sunday.

Germany has recorded 191,657 total cases of coronavirus and 8,897 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

This month’s outbreak has put Germany’s meat processing industry under further scrutiny. Outbreaks at plants in Dissen in Lower Saxony and Coesfeld in North Rhine-Westphalia were reported in May.

Fred Pleitgen reported from Berlin. Zamira Rahim wrote in London.