In South Africa, as a more infectious form of the virus sweeps through the region, the number of mineworker deaths due to COVID-19 has risen to 215.
“The pandemic in our country is now at its most devastating,” president Cyril Ramaphosa said a few days back.
“As the country returns to work after the festive break, it is essential that all places of work ensure that they continue to have safety protocols in place and that these are rigorously adhered to.”
In March last year, South Africa went into a national lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19, and it took months for the country’s mining industry to recover.
COVID-19 mitigation measures were placed in place by the mining sector and binding legislations were enforced in May, following legal action by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union to protect employees.
South Africa has reported nearly 190,000 new coronavirus infections and more than 4,600 deaths from COVID-19 since New Year’s Day, Ramaphosa further commented.
In January, more than 15,000 new cases and 416 deaths were reported, raising the combined totals to 1,246,643 and 33,579.
In the mining sector, according to statistics released in mid January by the Minerals Council of South Africa, the total number of positive cases had reached 21,627.
In the Council’s report, the number of active cases jumped to 981, up from 678.
Just before Christmas, the industry’s death toll from the pandemic had reached 200 and increased from 211 on Friday to 215 some time back.
According to Johns Hopkins University, South Africa has the 16th largest number of incidents, with the global count at over 90.7 million.