85 migrant workers test positive in latest Ontario farm outbreak

A farm operation in Norfolk County, south of Simcoe, is the latest agricultural facility in Ontario to declare a COVID-19 outbreak after 85 migrant workers tested positive for the virus.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit said Sunday that five workers have been hospitalized and approximately 25 others who tested positive are showing symptoms of the virus.

The migrant workers are employed by Scotlynn Group in Vittoria, a major producer of sweet corn, watermelon, asparagus and pumpkins. Many workers are from Mexico and an official from the Mexican consulate is being made available to speak to those infected.

The number of migrant workers contracting the coronavirus is increasing. A farm in St. Thomas, Ontario Plants Propagation, had 20 people associated with it test positive this past week and is still waiting on test results for others.

In that case, two health units are involved in contact tracing, as the workers lived in London but travelled daily to the Elgin County farm.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has also seen a spike, with 33 new cases reported on May 25 in the agricultural sector. The health unit would not identify which farms, greenhouses or other businesses were involved.

Approximately 70 per cent of migrant workers arriving in southwestern Ontario are Spanish speakers, according to the Migrant Worker Community Program (MWCP)

In an attempt to help prepare them for Ontario pandemic protocols, the MWCP teamed up with the Essex County OPP to issue a bilingual how-to video message.

WATCH| The Spanish-language video for migrant workers coming to Canada:

At the end of April, 40 people at Greenhill Produce in Chatham-Kent tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to put approximate half the workforce into isolation. Since the outbreak began, 101 workers have contracted the virus.