COVID-19 outbreak among foreign workers declared over at Bylands Nurseries

An outbreak of COVID-19 at the Bylands nursery in West Kelowna has been declared over

Health officials on Monday declared an outbreak of COVID-19 was over among temporary foreign workers at a nursery in West Kelowna, B.C.

Dr. Silvina Mema, medical health officer with the Interior Health Authority, said the 23 workers at Bylands Nurseries who tested positive for the novel coronavirus have recovered and the business can now fully reopen.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: B.C. says it will oversee quarantine of temporary foreign workers

The outbreak was declared on March 28 after two workers were confirmed to have contracted the virus, prompting widespread testing at the worksite.

“The source of this outbreak is unclear. We believe that some workers who came into Canada later in March may have been incubating the disease when they came in,” Mema told a news conference.

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“This was before the provincial health officer’s order to quarantine anybody who was coming from abroad.”

Okanagan agricultural producers worry about food chain remaining intact without foreign workers
Okanagan agricultural producers worry about food chain remaining intact without foreign workers

None of the workers interacted with customers, Interior Health said, and members of the group had very minimal contact in the community.

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No community cases in West Kelowna were linked to the outbreak at Bylands Nurseries, Mema said.

Bylands owner Maria Bylands told Global News she’s greatly relieved that the outbreak is over and that the workers have recovered.

“I am so pleased and blessed that they are all safe and that the community is safe as well,” she said.  “They are happy that they want to go to work and get money so that they can go back to their own country and provide a good living for their family while at the same time they are actually providing a really good service for our own people, for ourselves because without these people we wouldn’t have the apples, we wouldn’t have the lettuce, we wouldn’t have the plants.”

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READ MORE: West Kelowna nursery issues update on workers following potential COVID-19 outbreak

In mid-April, the B.C. government announced it would oversee and fund the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for temporary foreign workers arriving in the province, such as providing them with a motel room.

COVID-19 quarantine for West Kelowna nursery foreign workers
COVID-19 quarantine for West Kelowna nursery foreign workers

A few weeks later, the province revealed that four foreign workers who were under mandatory isolation had tested positive.

READ MORE: Feds to fund quarantine of seasonal farm workers in Canada amid COVID-19