17 more Greenhill Produce employees test positive for COVID-19

Greenhill Produce operation on Kent Bridge Rd. (Photo courtesy of Chatham-Kent.ca)

The number of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent has surged as the full impact of an outbreak at a local greenhouse continues to emerge.

Late Wednesday evening, Chatham-Kent Public Health reported that 17 more employees of Greenhill Produce have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the municipality to 108. Eighty-five of those have since recovered and one person has died as a result of the virus.

While the virus appears to be spreading to more employees at Greenhill since the outbreak at the greenhouse was declared on April 27, CK Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the 17 employees initially tested negative but were suspected to have been exposed.

“They were isolated in separate bunkhouses, away from those who tested positive,” Dr. Colby said in a news release. “That was [the] direction given to Greenhill Produce as soon as their very first employees tested positive for the virus.”

With the new cases recorded at Greenhill Produce on Wednesday, a total of 69 employees have been infected as a result of the outbreak. Of those, 50 have fully recovered and are back at work.

“It is likely that these [new] cases were exposed prior to isolation.  That is why they were tested again.  Public Health measures, such as isolating those who have tested positive away from those who have not, exist to stop the spread of the virus,” Dr. Colby said. “It is imperative that these measures are followed to the letter.”

CK Public Health said it continues to investigate the outbreak and is advising staff on measures to control the spread of the virus.

A total of 2,164 people in Chatham-Kent have been tested for COVID-19 and the results for 43 tests are pending.