Norfolk County farm says 164 migrant workers have COVID-19

As of Monday night, operators of a Norfolk County farm say 164 of their migrant workers have now tested positive for COVID-19.

The first worker at Scotlynn Farms was diagnosed last week.

After that case was confirmed the company says it started testing approximately 210 of its workers. Of those, 164 tests came back positive and 46 were negative.

There are now seven workers that have been admitted to hospital.

Officials say a number of migrant workers are now in insolation while they wait for test results, though most are asymptomatic.

“We have 118 positive cases that are virtually showing no symptoms,” says Scott Biddle, the President of Scotlynn Farms. “The gentlemen that are at the hospital are being released. We have two that are remaining there.”

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is making sure all of the workers have access to medical care.

“We’re trying to effectuate a plan so they will have as speedy a recovery as possible,” says Dr. Shanker Nesathurai. “We are also trying to make sure that the people who are infected do not spread the disease to other people.”

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, is also weighing in on the Norfolk County cases.

“We have put out guidance for temporary foreign workers, for medical officers,” she says. “I think we need to learn from our experience and consider whether we should be looking at different policies for next year.”

Biddle believes there will be more outbreaks at farms across the province.

Premier Doug Ford said on Monday he wants to ramp up COVID-19 testing for migrant workers.

The promise comes as a number of virus outbreaks surface on farms across the province.

Two other farms, one in St. Thomas and one in the Niagara Region, have also reported outbreaks

Ford said the province may have to consider making changes to the communal nature of the bunkhouses in the future, but it would be hard to take that action during the pandemic.