'Potentially large' COVID-19 workplace outbreak in Chatham-Kent

·1 min read

Chatham-Kent Public Health is investigating a workplace outbreak that it believes was started by contract workers who came into the municipality from Windsor-Essex.

The outbreak, according to Chatham-Kent health officials, has so far resulted in 16 positive COVID-19 cases, 12 of which are residents of Chatham-Kent. Medical officer of health Dr. David Colby said another approximately 62 tests are pending, but many of the tests they have completed have come back negative.

Though Colby wouldn't name the company or the industry, as he said the public doesn't have access to the business, he did say the company employees around 200 people.

Yet, he doesn't anticipate the "attack rate" being that high.

He said the cases do involve migrant workers but noted that "migrant workers appear to be victims rather than causes of this outbreak."

In response to this outbreak, Colby said he's considering a class order that would prevent contract workers from coming into Chatham-Kent from other jurisdictions.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

He said there may be "unintended consequences" of this and he wouldn't want to harm any businesses but added that when "dealing with a potentially large outbreak" that could have been prevented, "it is very tempting to consider such an action."

As of Thursday, Chatham-Kent Public Health's website is reporting 23 active cases.

In addition to the workplace outbreak, there is still an outbreak at the place of worship and congregate living space, though Colby said he is waiting for one person to be cleared to declare them over and anticipates that will happen Friday.

All cases have been cleared from the possible exposure at the blood donor clinic, Colby added.