Local likely caused Greenhill Produce outbreak

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Four new COVID-19 cases reported

Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

(Image courtesy Google Maps)

Chatham-Kent’s COVID-19 caseload has reached 82 cases, up by 4 from Tuesday.

The new cases were confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

CK Public Health figures indicate the cases are linked to Greenhill Produce, a Kent Bridge greenhouse facility where 43 others were recently confirmed to have contracted COVID-19.

READ MORE: COVID-19 breaks out in Kent Bridge greenhouse

The outbreak most likely came from one of the employees who is a Chatham-Kent resident, according to Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health.

At the end of March, one individual working at Greenhill got tested while sick and their results came back negative. Colby said the individual could have been positive but the test reverted to negative, or they never had COVID at all. But at this point they will never know for certain, he said. A second hypothesis is that it stemmed from a Chatham-Kent resident who tested positive on April 8, the earliest confirmed case, which has since been resolved.

On April 21, six more symptomatic individuals came in for testing, which Colby said spread because of the bunkhouse environment.

“I really think it is important to understand workers are not bringing this in (from other countries). The living conditions just meant it spread quickly,” he said, adding that the workers at Greenhill have been there for months and some for years. “They were all here long before the whole situation started.”

Colby said residents should not worry about buying produce from Greenhill.

“It is one hundred per cent safe. It is not a food born infection and does not live long on surfaces.”

Colby also pointed out that in winter and spring months most produce is imported from countries which are currently experiencing major COVID-19 issues and “no one has ever questioned their food supply of being unsafe.”

Forty-five of the cases from the outbreak are bunkhouse residents and two are locals employed at Greenhill who live in Chatham-Kent. Fifty-four bunkhouse residents have tested negative and 13 results are still pending.

Three of the individuals who previously tested negative are now going back for testing after they started experiencing symptoms.

In the community workforce, 91 tests came back negative, two positive and 24 that are still pending results.

Public Health statistics show no one in hospital in C-K from COVID-19 at this point.

To date, a total of 1,702 locals have been tested, with 91 test results pending.

READ MORE: Greenhouse COVID-19 numbers reach 40

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