Rising mining sector cases see West Rand declared covid-19 hotspot

Rising mining sector cases see West Rand declared covid-19 hotspot

- The West Rand district has been officially declared a Covid-19 hotspot as infections in the mining sector rise

- 164 mine workers at Anglo Gold Ashanti Mponeng Mine have tested positive for the virus

- Anglo Ashanti has donated its old hospital to the government hospital to be used as a Covid-19 facility

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The Gauteng Provincial Government has officially classified the West Rand district a Covid-19 hotspot. The announcement by Gauteng Premier David Makhura came after 164 mine workers in Anglo Gold Ashanti Mponeng Mine in Merafong tested positive for Covid-19. Mponeng Mine has reported the highest number of cases so far.

Makhura was speaking at Sibanye Gold Mine, in Carletonville on Thursday after meeting with officials from unions and the mining sector. The meeting included the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Harmony, Gold Fields and Sibanye representatives.

Makhura said the meeting would also be to assess what measures have been put in place to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. He said:

"We will direct all the necessary provincial and national support to help ensure that we contain the spread of the virus, particularly at the mines."

As the country gears itself towards the further reopening of economic activities, the mining sector has seen a surge in the number of infections. In April, the mining sector was allowed to operate at 50% capacity during lockdown. In June, thousands of employees will be returning to work as the mining sector returns to full staff capacity.

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The Gauteng Provincial Government's latest Covid-19 statistics indicate that the province has 3 167 cases, 31 deaths and 1 993 recoveries. The West Rand has 290 cases, with four deaths and 54 recoveries. There are still 84 unallocated cases in the district.

Although few cases have been reported at the other mines in the area, Makhura said screening was not enough and urged the mines to make testing a high priority. AngloGold Ashanti senior vice-president Moses Madondo said:

“The positive cases came as a result of mass testing at the mine where 651 mineworkers were tested Of these, 95% of the cases were asymptomatic”

As they gear towards the June further reopening, Madondo said they were taking this time to deep-clean their mining facilities.

Makhura also reports that Anglo Gold Ashanti has donated its old hospital to the provincial government to be used as a designated Covid-19 facility. The hospital has 200 beds and will open by the end of June.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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