News Release: Increased COVID-19 Testing to Start in Agri-Food Sector
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Saturday, June 6th, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. | Windsor-Essex County
As part of the provincial expanded testing strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Testing, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is working in collaboration with provincial, regional and local partners to support increased COVID-19 testing within the agri-food sector. To date the health unit has investigated and tested workers as part of our role related to case and contact management. This new enhanced testing model will include employees from farms and other agri-businesses within Windsor-Essex County.
The province’s enhanced testing strategy is focusing on environments with many staff where social distancing may be difficult to achieve, including some agri-food businesses. Across the agri-food sector, businesses – including farms – have implemented protocols to reduce the risks of COVID-19. Enhanced testing is an additional tool to help manage the risks at their facility. Asymptomatic testing does not replace the other protocols they have put in place around maintaining physical distancing when feasible, diligent handwashing, and self-isolation.
“This expanded testing is only possible due to the extra capacity enabled by the provincial government’s direction to increase testing under their enhanced testing strategy. The WECHU will continue to support their role in case and contact management with all cases in the community. We are confident that this will enhance our understanding of COVID-19 among the Agri-food sector and guide further planning and public health intervention.” Said Dr. Ahmed, Medical Officer of Health
Local farms and other agri-businesses will be contacted in the coming week with information about the opportunity for enhanced testing at their workplaces. As per the class action order issued on May 26th by Dr. Ahmed, under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, workplaces should be prepared with accurate and updated contact information for all employees including all permanent, temporary and contract employees.
Farms with current positive active cases of COVID-19 within their farms must continue to work collaboratively with public health to support all aspects of case and contact investigation.
For more information about farms and COVID-19, please visit the WECHU’s dedicated webpage for farms and temporary foreign workers.