At the Canadian pepper farm Greenhill Produce, located in Kent Bridge Ontario, 40 workers have been infected with COVID-19. None have been hospatilized as they are experiencing mild symptoms. The outbreak is expected to come from a local person, after what the virus spread amongst the workers living together at the greenhouse.
Testing going on
Greenhill Produce has released a media issue themselves, stating that all 250 members of the workforce have been tested for COVID-19. After that the count raised rapidly to 40 confirmed infections.
“There is nothing more important to Greenhill Produce than the health and safety of our workforce and local community,” said Justin Geertsema, vice-president and general manager of the 125-acre pepper greenhouse. “The affected employees are members of our migrant workforce and all have been living in Chatham-Kent for at least four months and up to 18 months. We currently have 113 migrant workers living here, from Jamaica, Mexico and Guatemala."
The cases started showing up last Wednesday, as there were six cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the workforce April 22. All six were from Guatemala and have been Chatham-Kent residents for 18 months, according to Greenhill officials. Affected employees live in two of seven residences. They have been isolated as per public health guidelines and instruction. The remainder of the positive cases have been confirmed since that time.
“We have contacted consular officials of the home countries of our migrant workers to advise them of the situation.”
“We are supporting all of our employees. We will continue to co-ordinate with local health authorities to ensure all recommended procedures are followed. Containment of the virus and the recovery of our staff are our top priorities," the company concludes.
It is believed by both Chatham-Kent's public health officials as the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers that a migrant worker was infected by a local person, after what the virus spread easily through the people living in the community. "Fifteen migrant workers recently arrived at Greenhill Produce and were placed in isolation as per federal requirements. None has had contact with the affected employees or any other employees during their isolation," the company explains.
Outbreak being contained
“The outbreak is being contained, and any individuals that could have been exposed have been contacted” states Dr. David Colby, hatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. “Every individual who has tested positive or had symptoms is in isolation. All persons that they have come into contact have been notified by our team, and have been isolated and directed to watch for symptoms.”
CK Public Health would like to inform the public that all appropriate measures regarding infection control are in place. “This is Public Health” states Colby. “This is what we’ve done with disease outbreaks long before COVID-19, what we do every day of this pandemic, and what we will continue to do long after this virus has subsided.