Implats temporarily suspends operations at Marula after detecting 19 Covid-19 cases
Platinum mining group Implats has temporarily suspended operations at its Marula operation in Limpopo after detecting a “cluster” of positive Covid-19 cases.
The group said on Saturday that 19 positive cases had been detected during the week after stringent and comprehensive screening, testing and tracing protocols. All of them were asymptomatic — meaning the individuals tested exhibited no apparent coronavirus symptoms.
“Of these cases, 14 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. As such, the rigorous screening and testing protocols at Marula have proved effective in quickly identifying cases, enabling the group to rapidly isolate affected employees to prevent wider infection on the mine,” Implats said.
It was also confirmed that these cases included 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,” the group said.
It added that department of health officials had visited patients at the mine's quarantine site on Saturday.
“Marula currently works rotational shift cycles, with two teams alternating a week at work and a week off. Marula will not recall workers due to report for duty next week, to enable it to first complete all relevant health and safety protocols, including: verifying test results, sanitising identified high-risk areas, conducting further contact tracing and testing procedures as required, and placing people in isolation and quarantine based on the outcome of the screening and testing results.
“It is critically important that Implats identifies people who may have been the source of the infections or been in contact with affected individuals. The group is working closely with the public health care authorities on tracing protocols to identify all those who may have come into close contact with the affected employees and all Marula employees and contractors are complying with the relevant protocols as instituted by government.”
Implats CEO Nico Muller said: “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.”