Covid outbreak at Limpopo mine raises further fears of fourth wave
Mine at Lephalale has reported 57 cases in four days, while infections nationwide have risen to more than 1,000 for the first time since October
Limpopo health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has raised concerns about the resurgence of Covid-19 at a mine in the Waterberg district of Limpopo.
The department said the mine at Lephalale has recorded 57 cases in four days, including 18 cases on Wednesday. Unvaccinated miners are “a definite factor”, Ramathuba said.
Th cases come as medical officials have warned that a fourth wave of infections nationally was building, and urged people to get their Covid-19 shots as soon as possible.
New infections have been steadily increasing, with the country reporting more than 1,000 new cases for the first time since October.
“Our honeymoon will soon be over, the fourth wave is becoming another reality and we wish to call on everyone to adhere to Covid-19 protocols,” Ramathuba said.
The majority of those who tested positive at the mine and were symptomatic hadn’t been vaccinated. “This is despite our efforts and that of the mine to offer all workers vaccines at their workplace,” she added.
“Those who are vaccinated are not displaying severe symptoms and are just isolating at home.”
The department has sent healthcare workers to screen and test the mineworkers and other staff, and warned the public about the cluster outbreaks and dangers of vaccine hesitancy.
“Let’s join the millions of other South Africans and get vaccinated to save our lives. The Covid-19 virus is still very much present ... people are behaving as if the virus has been wiped away,” Ramathuba said.
SA’s mines have been at the forefront of the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive. On Wednesday, Minerals Council SA said it had administered 300,779 vaccinations, meaning more than two-thirds of the industry’s 450,000 employees and contractors are fully (80%) and partially (20%) vaccinated.
“We have done well in reaching this significant milestone, but we still have some way to go to reach the [80%] target we set,” said Thuthula Balfour, head of health at the council.
“Like the rest of the country, achieving a stretch target was never going to be easy, but we are working hard with the industry and our stakeholders to get there,” Balfour said.
“It is vital employees are vaccinated before going home for the year-end break to keep themselves, their families and friends safe,” she added.
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