Coronavirus outbreak reported at Okanagan fruit farm

Jul 13 2020, 7:58 pm

A cherry farm in BC’s Okanagan is now under lockdown, after a coronavirus outbreak was reported at the location, health officials said on Monday.

In a statement, Interior Health Authority (IHA) said two individuals who work at Krazy Cherry Fruit Co., located in Oliver, have confirmed cases of the virus.

“One case is self-isolating at home in the community, while the second individual – a temporary foreign worker (TFW) – is isolating in a location off the farm,” said IHA. “At this time, a link between these two cases has not been identified.”

As part of its investigative process, IHA said a lockdown order has now been issued for the farm, which applies to “all 36 TFWs, and nine additional individuals on the farm.”

All the individuals “are restricted from leaving while further testing and investigation takes place,” said IHA.

As well, access to the farm is also restricted “with the exception of deliveries of essential supplies,” and with “appropriate precautions” in place.

The health authority said it also is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture “to ensure that all workers receive the appropriate follow up (including testing as required) and supports they need.”

Officials also noted that the cause of illness in the two positive cases has not been determined, “but both individuals are presumed to have acquired it in BC.”

They stressed that the TFW “went through the 14-day self-isolation program and tested negative for COVID-19 before starting to work at the farm.”

In light of this situation, IHA said it is also reminding people “of the general recommendations” for all produce:

  • Rinse fresh produce like cherries under cold water (soap or sanitizer is not required for consumers);
  • Wash hands with soap and water before and after eating.

News of the outbreak comes on the same day that BC reported 62 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the province since Friday.

However, the IHA noted that the risk of exposure to the general public as result of the outbreak on the farm in Oliver is still “considered to be low.”

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