Saturday 24 October, 2020

Samuda satisfied with treatment of COVID positive workers at US farm

Karl Samuda

Karl Samuda

The outbreak of COVID-19 among Jamaican farm workers at an apple orchard in Addison County in Vermont in the United States, has grown by one case to 28, the Champlain Orchards said on Thursday.

The worker reportedly tested positive on Wednesday evening and was already in isolation housing, the orchard said in a statement.

“We are checking in with the quarantined crew several times a day. Everyone is doing really well so far,” Champlain Orchards added.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Karl Samuda, said he is satisfied that the more than two dozen Jamaicans who have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Champlain Orchards are being treated well.

In a statement Friday, Samuda noted that the entire group was tested after one of the farm workers presented with symptoms and was confirmed as positive for COVID-19.

Samuda said the ministry’s liaison officer in Washington DC has been in contact with the workers and all are in good spirits. He also stated, as was previously reported, that one worker was briefly hospitalised but has since been released.

“We will continue to monitor the situation; however, I am pleased with the level of care they have received. I am also advised that they continue to be compensated during their quarantine period,” Samuda said.

On Monday, health officials in the US said the outbreak at the apple farm had contributed to the biggest one-day increase in cases since June 3 in a state that has consistently had one of the nation’s lowest infection rates.

While previously reporting that 27 Jamaicans had tested positive for the coronavirus, the management of Champlain Orchards advised Thursday that another individual had tested positive, bringing the total number of cases to 28. It said the majority of the workers were so far asymptomatic.

According to media reports out of the United States, the Jamaicans arrived in Vermont on September 14 and were placed in mandatory quarantine for 14 days. At the end of the two-week period one worker reportedly fell ill and later tested positive for the coronavirus. Subsequent tests confirmed the others as also being COVID-19 positive.

The cluster is reported as one of the single largest such outbreak in a state with relatively low numbers of COVID-19 cases when compared to the rest of the North American country where cases are reportedly on the increase in nearly 40 of the 50 states.

The positive tests forced the management of the 300-acre orchard to close its doors to visitors last Saturday. Owner Bill Suhr has indicated that the men continue to work while isolated from other workers.

He reportedly said  most of the 28 men who tested positive are asymptomatic, and voluntarily choosing to continue working on harvesting this year’s crop, while remaining strictly compliant with all guidelines. He said the worker who was briefly hospitalised was feeling better and he also advised that the farm was working closely with several organisations to ensure that the affected workers can receive proper medical care without fear of financial consequences.

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