Seven migrant workers among 8 new COVID-19 cases in London-Middlesex

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All but one of the eight new cases of COVID-19 reported Friday in the London-area have been linked to a farm in Elgin County.

The Middlesex London Health Unit said a migrant worker at Ontario Plants Propagation tested positive for the virus earlier this week, prompting health officials to test 16 others who had been in close contact with the individual. The results of those tests came back on Friday showing seven other migrant workers had also contracted the virus.

The infected employees live in the same housing complex in the London-area as dozens of other migrant workers. A total of 40 of them were tested on Wednesday at the Carling Heights Assessment Centre, with the remaining workers being tested at the farm on Friday. The results of those tests will be delivered in the coming days.

The health unit reassures Ontario Plants Propagation has been cooperating with public health officials to ensure all “reasonable infection prevention and control measures are in place.” The farm now has enhanced bilingual signage, is limiting six workers to a bus when travelling and had ordered thermometers to step up employee screening.

“The cooperation we’ve with Ontario Plants Propagation has been excellent. They have been very supportive and have assisted in facilitating the transportation and testing of their staff members,” said Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health with the Middlesex London Health Unit. “We will continue to follow up with these workers, as well as their close contacts over the next two weeks, until they complete their self-isolation and can return to work.”

Produce grown at the farm poses no risk to public safety as the virus can’t be transmitted through plants, the health unit stressed.

With the eight newly confirmed cases on Friday, the London-area has now seen a combined 520 cases since the start of the outbreak.

There were no additional deaths reported over the last 24 hours, leaving the death toll unchanged at 52. The number of resolved cases increased to 372.

There are 15 patients infected with the virus under the care of the London Health Sciences Centre.

An outbreak of the virus has been declared over at Meadow Park Care Centre. However, outbreaks remain at seven other institutions in the city – Chelsey Park, Country Terrace, Henley Place Long-Term Care Residence, Kensington Village, Mount Hope Centre for Long-Term Care, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Waverley Mansion.

Southwestern Public Health, the health unit for Elgin and Oxford counties, reported no new cases or additional deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday. The two counties have not seen any COVID-19 related deaths in five weeks, with a total of four deaths recorded since the start of the pandemic. The area’s total number of confirmed cases stands at 73 with 60 of those cases now resolved.

Provincially, there were another 344 newly confirmed cases over the past 24 hours. This is the second day in a row the daily COVID-19 numbers were above the 300 mark.

Since the outbreak began, there have been a total of 27,210 cases across the province. There were 41 more deaths reported on Friday, bringing the death toll to 2,230.

The number of people in hospital with the virus is currently 826. Of those, 129 COVID-19 infected patients are listed in the intensive care unit, 100 of whom are hooked up to ventilators to help them breathe.

According to public health officials, there were two additional outbreaks of the virus reported in Ontario long-term care homes since Thursday, bringing the total number of outbreaks within the facilities to 300.

The number of recoveries has risen to 20,983.

The province has increased the number of tests it is conducting for the virus, testing 18,525 people over the past 24 hours.