20 workers at St. Catharines greenhouse test positive for COVID-19
Here's a summary of COVID-19 numbers from the Hamilton, Halton, Brant, Haldimand, Niagara area
A St. Catharines greenhouse reports 20 of its workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and public health officials in Niagara are investigating.
A post shared on the Pioneer Flower Farms Facebook page Sunday states "an offshore employee" showed symptoms that prompted a test for COVID-19 two weeks ago.
The flower growers say that person was sent off the property and into self-isolation, but later that same week two other workers also appeared to have symptoms and tested positive for the virus.
All employees were asked to get tested on May 29 "as we wanted to put preventative measures in place to stop the spread of asymptomatic employees," says the farm.
More than 80 workers were tested between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, according to the post.
"Testing results ... have confirmed that the spread of COVID-19 has indeed been through the greenhouse at 1900 Seventh Street, with 18 more positive minimum to asymptomatic cases," it reads, adding that before testing took place the farm's owners pledged to pay their workers during self-isolation.
"We will keep our word to pay these individuals as they enter into their isolation for the next two weeks," the post adds.
The greenhouse notes it has followed the Ministry of Health's guidelines throughout the pandemic and that preventative measures were in place before the outbreak began.
No 'increased risk' to customers
Niagara Region Public Health says any employees exposed to the virus is self-isolating or working separately to stop the spread.
The farm has also increased cleaning and disinfecting and is closely monitoring the workers for further symptoms so officials can follow up with any new cases as quickly as possible.
A release from public health adds its determined there is no "increased risk" to the farm's customers.
"While this workplace poses no particular risk to the broader community, it is a reminder that although Niagara has had success in reducing COVID-19, persons are still becoming ill with the infection," stated acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji in a media release.
"As businesses reopen and the potential for COVID-19 to spread increases, it is more important than ever that we are all doing what we can to keep ourselves and those around us healthy."
The number of transmission high, the farm's post acknowledges, but it's "relieved" most of the tests were negative and cites that fact as evidence their efforts to curb the spread are working.
"We will do our part to slow the spread and reduce the numbers being exposed by keeping the employees infected in isolation and bringing them their essentials during the next two weeks," the post states.
"As you know this is not something we can run from, but simply try to reduce the spread and localize it to our farm."
Overall, Niagara has 666 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Forty-eight people are known to have the virus right now, which means 559 people have recovered. Fifty-nine people have died.
Two more people in Hamilton have died of COVID-19 since Friday, although the number of people confirmed to have the virus appears to have fallen.
Overall, Hamilton has seen 685 cases of COVID-19 (679 confirmed, seven probable). Thirty-eight people have died and 494 people have recovered. That means 153 people are currently known to have COVID-19, which is down from 171 on Friday. There are five institutional outbreaks and 57 people in hospital.
Brant/Brantford has 109 people who have been known to have COVID-19, up one from Friday. Of those, 97 people have recovered, one is in hospital and four have died.
There are 171 active cases of COVID-19 right now, and 85 are workers at Scotlynn Farms in Vittoria. On Friday, there were only 50 active cases.
Since the pandemic started, 338 people have been diagnosed with the virus. Thirty-one people have died and 136 have recovered.
Two more Halton residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since Sunday. The region has seen 719 cases (645 confirmed, 74 probable) since the pandemic started, including 591 who have recovered and 25 who have died.
In Burlington, 137 residents have had COVID-19 (122 confirmed, 15 probable). Seven people have died and 115 have recovered, which means 15 people are suspected or confirmed to have the virus.
With files from Samantha Craggs