WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit medical officer of health says the region is seeing an increase in COVID-19 in workplaces.

WECHU is reporting seven workplace outbreaks in Windsor-Essex on Wednesday - two in the agriculture sector, three in health care & social assistance and two in manufacturing.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed is reminding businesses to follow public health measures.

“We are noticing an increase in cases at the workplaces now,” says Ahmed. “With many businesses currently closed and operating virtually, it is important for the businesses that are still open and have staff on site to follow the strict public health measures. All employers should look for ways to allow their worker to work remotely to prevent any transmission at the workplace.”

Ahmed says workplaces should review their COVID-19 plan and update it with most guidelines to keep their workplaces safe.

“With the variant cases on the rises, cases can increase rapidly, especially in the workplace and can potentially can lead to closure of the workplace which may have an impact on the businesses,” adds Ahmed.

Most of the workplace cases are not resulting in major transmission says Ahmed.

“Generally there are cases and they are contained,” he says. “If it increases up to a certain point where we are concerned about the safety of the workplace then we have to shut down the workplace but we are not there yet.”

Medical health officers in Toronto and Peel Region issued orders that require workplaces with five or more recent coronavirus cases to shut down for 10 days.

Ahmed says right now the focus is on making sure the businesses know the policies and are following them.

“It’s important to educate the workplace and everyone to continuously update policies and enforce them,” says Ahmed.

He adds it’s not a case of people going to work knowingly sick.

“I don’t have any indication at this time people coming to the workplace that are knowingly sick, there are some odd instances but generally speaking that is not the case,” says Ahmed. “It’s more people very close to their infectious period, without necessarily realizing that they are a defined case or that they have been identified as a close contact and then they convert into a case and can’t really pinpoint how they contracted it.”

Public health experts have been calling for a paid sick leave since early in the pandemic, arguing it would reduce COVID-19 spread in workplaces.

“It doesn’t need to be provincial or federal. It doesn’t matter. It needs to be uncomplicated and immediate,” says Dr. Peter Juni, Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table Scientific Director.

The Ford government long opposed to creating a provincial paid sick leave program, now appears to be changing course.

The provinces science advisory table says this is critical to help the province's hospitals cope with the crushing weight of the third wave.

“We need to have the trust of people if they are symptomatic today, they can call in and they will get their pay cheque on Friday anyways. That’s the point. If we can’t achieve that, it won’t work. We need to be very aware of that,” says Juni.

While the details are limited, the Ford government appears it may bend to intense pressure to offer sick leave.

Ahmed issued orders when transmission was high in the agri-farm sector last July and in the shelter population in February.