Eighteen of 49 foreign workers at a farm and food-processing company south of Montreal have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Radio-Canada.
Quebec’s public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said Thursday that the situation is under control. The regional health agency was able to quickly respond when the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in late May at Vegpro International in Sherrington, Que., in the Monteregie region.
Vegpro International said in a statement to The Canadian Press that it was originally contacted by the public health agency on May 28 after a Guatemalan worker tested positive. Testing continued on May 30, but Vegpro did not say how many workers tested positive or how many still have symptoms.
The outbreak was made more complicated since workers were living in communal housing, making it harder to social-distance.
The company operates several farms and food-packing plants in Quebec’s Monteregie region, as well as in Florida. It distributes produce throughout Canada and in the northeastern United States.
COVID-19 outbreaks have also been reported among temporary foreign workers in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba. About 50,000-60,000 temporary foreign workers come to Canada each year to work in agriculture and food processing, according to the federal government.
Migrant workers have been permitted to come to Canada amid the pandemic, but they must self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival. In early April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau allocated $50 million in federal funding to help employers of migrant workers as they adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 quarantine rules.