South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) a national disaster – this after the total number of cases in the country increased to more than 60.In a statement, Ramaphosa said that the Cabinet had a meeting to discuss a way forward in dealing with the disease. “We have decided to take urgent and drastic measures to manage the disease, protect the people of our country and reduce the impact of the virus on our society and on our economy,” he said. Among the measure are travel bans on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. The bans will be effective as of 18 March 2020. In addition, visas for visitors from high risk countries have also been cancelled. With immediate effect non-essential travel for all government departments outside of South Africa has been cancelled. Furthermore, people who have returned from risk countries since mid-February have been advised to get tested, and self-quarantine.
Regarding social distancing, gatherings involving more than 100 people have been prohibited. Government events and mass celebrations such as Human Rights Day have been cancelled. “Where small gatherings are unavoidable, organisers will need to put in place stringent measures of prevention and control,” Ramaphosa said.Organisers for mining related events have been quick to respond by postponing upcoming scheduled events. One of them is the Harare Indaba which was scheduled to take place on Thursday 26th March 2020. “It has become clear over the past few weeks that the risks associated with the Coronavirus are rapidly evolving and we are witnessing a commensurate rapidly escalating global response. In light of this we believe we should exercise leadership in relation to our own contributions in this regard and have therefore taken the decision to postpone the Harare Indaba until such time as COVID – 19 risks are more clearly understood and mitigated,” said one of the organisers of the event. Another event that was postponed was the DigiMine Seminar, hosted by the Wits Mining Institute in partnership with Sibanye-Stillwater. “Following the recent address by State President Cyril Ramaphosa and in order to minimise the risk of spreading Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID – 19) we are unfortunately postponing the Wits Mining Institute Sibanye-Stillwater DigiMine Seminar until further notice,” said the organiser. New dates for both events will be communicated at a later stage. More postponements for other events are expected. Mining News will keep readers updated with developments on these and other events as more postponements can be expected.