Employees at Essex County farm ordered to stop working

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, speaks with reporters on March 12, 2020. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

The local health unit is ordering employees at an Essex County farm to stop working following an increase of COVID-19 cases.

Over the weekend, 191 new cases of the virus were reported among farmworkers at a single farm. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit did not specify the location of the farm.

However, former Essex MP Tracey Ramsey did identify the farm in question in a post on Facebook.

Currently, there are workplace outbreaks at two farms in Leamington and two farms in Kingsville.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Wajid Ahmed issued the order on Wednesday morning under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. It requires the owner and operator of the farm to ensure the isolation of workers and prohibits them from working until further direction.

Windsor-Essex County is home to approximately 176 farms and more than 8,000 Temporary Foreign Workers and full-time domestic workers.

“The safety and well-being of all workers is our top priority,” Ahmed said in a statement. “It is imperative that we stop the transmission of COVID-19 in this farm and our agricultural sector. All affected workers must be isolated and their health and wellbeing be monitored before any return to work can be discussed.”

Meanwhile, a total of nine new cases were reported in Windsor-Essex on Wednesday, seven of which came from the agri-farm sector.

The COVID-19 case count now sits at 1,611 in the region.