Dr. David Colby, CK Medical Officer of Health. Oct 18, 2017. (Photo by Paul Pedro)Dr. David Colby, CK Medical Officer of Health. Oct 18, 2017. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

CK Public Health lends Windsor-Essex a hand to control COVID-19

Chatham-Kent Public Health will be helping the health unit in Windsor-Essex to get their COVID-19 crisis under control.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the local health unit was asked and will offer as much help as possible for the greater good of the region, the province and the country.

"It could have been any of us that have had this problem and by helping Windsor we will help Ontario, Canada, and the world," he said.

Windsor-Essex has been dealing with several COVID-19 outbreaks at farm and greenhouse operations in Essex County. Colby said much of the problem is undocumented, contracted foreign agricultural workers in Essex County and the challenge to keep track of them and test them because they don't stay at the farm bunkhouses and live in the community.

"It's harder to get a handle on the contract workers that are moving around," added Colby. "I have to draw a contrast between migrant workers living in a bunkhouse environment where one firm takes responsibility over their welfare versus workers that are staying in hotels and motels that are employed by contract agencies and no one is taking responsibility for their welfare."

Dr. Colby said Leamington is the epicentre of the Windsor-Essex COVID-19 hot spot and Chatham-Kent is in a different boat, currently with no outbreaks, and can offer some assistance.

"It seems the Leamington area is kind of a centre for migrants that may have bypassed the legal entry requirements of the country and many are working for contract agencies picking up work wherever they can find it," he said.

A Leamington migrant worker who recently died, worked briefly at Greenhill Produce in Kent Bridge. His death is being linked to COVID-19. Greenhill had a COVID-19 outbreak for nearly two months that infected 103 workers. Dr. Colby suspects they caught the virus from Leamington migrant workers contracted to work there when the first few dozen at Greenhill fell ill. Colby said he believes the worker who died contracted the virus in Leamington.

Colby said Chatham-Kent is currently in prevention mode rather than management and containment mode.

CK Public Health reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Dr. Colby said three of them are part of a Chatham-Kent family who works at a farm in Essex County and the other lives in the Chatham-Kent community.

Read More Local Stories