South Africa’s Impala has announced a temporary shutdown of its Marula mine. This came after it detected 19 people infected with COVID-19 (coronavirus) among workers returning for duty at its site in northern Limpopo province.
The 19 cases showed no symptoms of the coronavirus. Notwithstanding, 14 of them were discovered because of the proactive testing measures put in place to properly check employees returning to its mines for work. Impala said that it would reopen when proper health measures have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
The platinum mining giant further expressed concern as 17 of the discovered cases were from employees living in nearby communities, while two had travelled from another province. It stated that “the prevalence of COVID-19 among local communities is far higher than the company’s initial estimates.”
Just last week, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a “cautious easing” of national lockdown with aims to steadily increase economic activities. The step was taken to revive the economy that has been badly hit by the coronavirus. However, this new development would overwhelm the country’s economic mission as its biggest platinum mine shuts down production processes.
The company, which happens to be a leading global platinum mine, employs over 40,000 people in South Africa. Hence, this inevitable move would affect thousands of people in its workforce while increasing the impact of the coronavirus on many households and small businesses in the country.
As South Africa took steps to a gradual easing of national lockdown last week, the government introduced 5 levels of lockdown alerts which were to determine the areas that needed stiffer lockdown measures based on infection level.
Consequently, priority was placed on metropolises over the rural regions due to the number of cases they have recorded, especially in Cape Town and Johannesburg. But, as the government expands screening and testing programme into rustic and rural provinces, test findings have indicated a rise in infection rates in those regions.