JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Six mineworkers have succumbed to coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, Minerals Council South Africa said on Thursday.
Back at work so far and screened daily are 272 770 mineworkers, on which 16 994 tests have been conducted, yielding 1 796 positive Covid cases and 666 recoveries, Minerals Council South Africa health head Dr Thuthula Balfour said during a virtual Covid update media briefing in which Mining Weekly participated. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
Of the six who had died, three were employed in platinum mining and two in gold mining.
Platinum has the highest number of cases at 897, followed by gold with 690. Platinum mines are the industry’s biggest employer and the North West, where most of the platinum mines are located, has 934 Covid cases, followed by Gauteng with 554.
The mining industry continues to have higher testing rates of 3.78% compared with the South African rate of 2.39%.
The age group of mineworkers with the most cases is from 31 to 40. Sixty-six per cent of the cases were asymptomatic. (Also see slide attached.)
Minerals Council South Africa public affairs and transformation senior executive Tebello Chabana announced that the South African mining industry, directly and under the auspices of the Minerals Council South Africa, was seeking to increase its Covid-19 testing capacity, both for companies themselves and in support of the country’s overall testing imperative.
Chabana stated that testing was the ideal public health approach followed by isolating the infected individuals and thus curbing transmission to other people.
However, South Africa’s Covid-19 testing capacity had been severely constrained by the lack of availability of testing machines, testing kits and qualified staff.
The highest total number of tests processed in South Africa in a day was 40 000, 51% of them done by public sector.
Of greater concern was the significant lag in processing of tests, particularly in the public sector, that has had a material impact on the country’s clinical response.
The private sector’s testing capacity was also concentrated in the hands of a small number of laboratories, largely located in major metropolitan areas.
A number of mining companies have taken the initiative to procure and establish both their own testing capacity embracing machines, testing kits and reagents, and qualified staff, or to enter into arrangements with private facilities to secure access to increased testing capacity.
The Minerals Council board on April 29 resolved to begin a study to see how the industry could collaborate to secure greater testing capacity for the industry, and for South Africa as a whole.
Companies would collaborate regionally while the Minerals Council was also engaging directly with the National Health Laboratory Service to understand and respond to specific needs in support of the country’s testing imperative.