A COVID-19 outbreak at the Ontario Food Terminal has increased to 30 workers as vendors continue to urge establishing vaccination clinics at the Etobicoke facility for front-line employees in the province.
The facility first reported an outbreak among workers on 5 April. Two weeks later, the case count reached 24 cases. And as of last Thursday, Toronto Public Health reported that the outbreak had spread to 30 workers.
According to Toronto Public Health, it is still considered active.
The outbreak spread among employees and vendors throughout the facility – despite the pleas to bring businesses to a vaccine clinic two weeks before the business – the largest distributor of fruits and vegetables in the country.
Steve Bumford, president of the terminal and the Toronto Whollers Produce Association, said the terminal requested a vaccine clinic in the middle of the province through April, but the facility was not eligible because its postal code was not in one of them. 114 provincially designated hot spots.
Many activists live in hot spots, Bamford said, but at that time the vaccine could not be registered, as most are under 50.
“A number of protocols have been placed here at the food terminal to protect everyone. But the safest way to deal with COVID is to vaccinate everyone, ”Bamford told the Star in April.
In a statement, the province said the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is now trying to set up a vaccine clinic in conjunction with the Ontario Food Terminal Board “as soon as supplies are allowed.”
A spokesman for the Solicitor-General’s office said the clinic is targeted to start in the second week of May.
Toronto Public Health recently issued a new rule that aims to slow the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces, opposing the closure of businesses with more than five cases in a two-week period.
But the order provides an exception to businesses deemed necessary for the province’s supply chain, allowing essential workers to work at several food processing and distribution centers.
In a statement, Toronto Public Health stated that the food terminal has been exempted from full supply, “the importance of this facility in the food supply.”
A spokesman for the city said, “It has been continued that operations in the public interest continue.” “We continue to work with the Ontario Food Terminal to ensure that all appropriate public health and outbreak measures are in place to prevent further virus spread.”
The terminal remains in place throughout the 24-hour, 365-day operation, producing for 5,000 businesses in Ontario alone, and many more in North America.
Larry Davidson, president of in-house vendor North American Produce Buyers, says the possibility of a vaccine clinic for workers is good news.
It’s loading…It’s loading…It’s loading…It’s loading…It’s loading…
He said the number of active cases related to the terminal are relatively low, as they are spread over 20 companies and more than 400 farmers.
“We are near the finish line in terms of getting these front-line workers vaccinated,” he said. “A lot of hard work has been done by the terminal and the owners to keep it as safe as possible in a very challenging environment.”