Implats has identified 19 people who tested positive for COVID-19 around the Marula mine in Limpopo, South Africa. As a result, operations at the mine have been suspended.
In a statement released over the weekend, the platinum producer explained that the 19 COVID-19 cases were all asymptomatic – meaning the individuals tested exhibited no apparent coronavirus symptoms. In addition, 14 of the 19 cases were identified as the result of proactive testing of employees returning to work. None of these employees had started work at the mine. Of the remaining five, one case was identified as a primary contact and the remaining four were identified through contact tracing. Two of the active cases had recently returned from the Eastern Cape. Significantly, 17 of the confirmed cases reside locally, suggesting the prevalence of COVID-19 among local communities is far higher than the company’s initial estimates had indicated.
“Any COVID-19 infection is a reminder to every citizen that we must remain vigilant and continue practising appropriate social distancing and the simple but essential hygiene and infection mitigation measures,” commented Implats CEO Nico Muller. He also thanked everyone involved who acted swiftly to identify and isolate infected individuals. “We are well prepared to deal with employees that have tested positive and will be deploying all the resources available to us to protect the lives and livelihoods of our people and host communities,” Muller added.
Among the infected people was a local health provider and four mine-employed health providers working at the mine clinic. This facility was immediately closed for sterilisation and testing of medical staff and all primary contacts. Every person who tested positive was immediately isolated to prevent the further spread of the virus and has been isolated at the mine’s isolation site, at government designated facilities or at home as per government protocols. “We wish our infected employees a speedy recovery and will continue to support them and their families through these anxious times,” Muller concluded.