Third Ontario migrant worker dies of COVID-19

A migrant worker from a farm near Simcoe, Ont. is the latest foreign worker in the province to die from COVID-19. The farm currently has 217 active cases, touching both migrant and local employees.

The worker was employed by Simcoe-area farm which currently has 217 positive cases

Silhouette of a person picking a plant from the ground.
Mexico said it would not send any more temporary foreign workers to farms in Canada with active outbreaks. (CBC)

A migrant worker from a farm near Simcoe, Ont. is the latest foreign worker in the province to die from COVID-19.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit confirmed that the worker was with Scotlynn Group, a large-scale farming operation in Vittoria, Ont. that currently has 217 positive cases involving migrant workers and farm employees.

Few details are known about the worker at this time, but the health unit did indicate that the person was hospitalized in the intensive care unit before passing away.

"I'm extremely saddened at this loss of life," said Norfolk County Mayor Kristal Chopp.

"It's an absolute tragedy that someone who comes to Canada to work in the agricultural industry and support his family back home loses his life so far from his loved ones." 

The health unit said that the medical officer of health for the region, a member of the Catholic clergy and health unit staff visited workers at the farm Saturday night to personally deliver the news.

Outbreaks at other farms

This marks the third death of a foreign worker in the province. 

At the end of May, 31-year-old Bonifacio Eugenio Romero from Mexico was the first worker to die of the virus.  About a week later, Rogelio Muñoz Santos, a 24-year-old worker also from Mexico, died after contracting the virus. Both men worked at farms in Windsor-Essex. 

Currently, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit says 199 migrant workers at Scotlynn Group have tested positive for the virus, alongside 18 other people associated with the farm.

In Windsor-Essex, local health authorities said this week that more than 350 farm workers in that region have tested positive for the disease. 

Southwestern Public Health, which covers St. Thomas, was also dealing with a farm outbreak. In that case, migrant workers were staying in housing in London and could have contracted it in the bigger centre. 

Scotlynn Group first reported an outbreak at the end of May. It's one of several farms across southwestern Ontario working to contain the spread, including sending workers to isolate in hotels. (Google)

CBC News has reached out to the owner Scotlynn Group but has yet to hear back. The farm had sent 119 workers into quarantine in hotels in nearby Brantford, as well as newly arrived workers self-isolating. 

An outbreak was first declared at the farm at the end of May when initial testing revealed that 85 migrant workers, all from Mexico, had contracted the virus. 

On Friday, the health unit said at least 13 people associated with this outbreak have been treated in hospital. 

The health unit offered assurances Sunday that the outbreak is largely contained to the farm and that all close contacts with those who have tested positive are in self-isolation.