Thirty-eight additional agri-food workers have tested positive for the virus in the Windsor-Essex public health region, bringing the total number of infections in the sector to over 200 since the start of the pandemic.
Of those cases, about 90 per cent are temporary foreign workers, said the region’s medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed.
“We are seeing a … spike in our local community cases in the migrant farm or temporary foreign workers population,” Ahmed said. “We need to get a better understanding of how we can support that particular group and there’s a lot of community players working together outside of the public health trying to find better solution to address them.”
About 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario every year to work on farms and in greenhouses, many travelling from Mexico, the Caribbean and Guatemala. Upon arrival amid COVID-19, they must self-isolate for 14 days.
Outbreaks have affected dozens of migrant workers in Chatham-Kent, Niagara Region and Elgin County. An outbreak in Norfolk County has resulted in 165 workers at a local farm contracting the virus, while seven have had to be hospitalized.
Two migrant workers have also died as a result of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex. The fatalities led to a new testing initiative in the Windsor-Essex region. Starting this Tuesday, various health organizations and local hospitals started to conduct a “mass swabbing” to test 8,000 migrant workers over the course of 10-14 days.