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Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | 10 a.m. | Windsor-Essex County

The following statement can be attributed to Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU):

“The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, the Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, Ministry of Labour, Trade and Skills Development, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs have continued to work closely together regarding the evolving situation in the Agri-Farm sector in Windsor-Essex County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Windsor-Essex County is home to approximately 176 farms and more than 8,000 Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) and full time domestic workers, the majority living in Leamington and Kingsville.

Due to the high number of cases in Leamington and Kingsville, the provincial and federal governments have provided more aggressive and targeted support to the WECHU and the region. Over the weekend, the WECHU reported an additional 191 new cases of COVID-19 among farm workers from a single farm location as a result of the targeted testing campaign led by Ontario Health. These new cases represent approximately one quarter of the total cases among farm workers in the region since March. 

Given the size of this outbreak, the potential for COVID-19 transmission, and the ongoing risk to the health and safety of the workers, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed is issuing an order under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) effective July 1. The order requires the owner/operator of the farm to ensure the isolation of workers and prohibits them from working until further direction. The Ontario government and other partners have committed to supporting and working closely with the farm during the isolation period. Targeted on farm testing in the area continues with the support of all stakeholders.

The safety and well-being of all workers is our top priority. It is imperative that we stop the transmission of COVID-19 in this farm and our agricultural sector. All affected workers must be isolated and their health and wellbeing be monitored before any return to work can be discussed.”

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