AMCU union urges SA mining firms to convene summit on coronavirus
JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has urged mining companies operating in South Africa to urgently convene a summit to discuss how prepared the industry is to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday a 38-year-old man from KwaZulu-Natal had become South Africa's first confirmed case of the disease, which is spreading across the globe after first cropping up in China last December.
In its statement, issued after Mkhize's announcement, AMCU said mineworkers -- who have to work in cramped areas with compressed air and high heat -- were particularly vulnerable.
"Working spaces like lifts known as "cages" are the ideal breeding ground for this disease," the union said.
"AMCU calls upon mining houses to call an urgent coronavirus summit , as a forum to gauge and bolster the state of preparedness for COVID-19 in the mining sector."
The KZN man confirmed to have COVID-19 arrived in Johannesburg from a holiday trip to Italy on March 1, but only developed symptoms two days later,, Mkhize said, adding he was now receiving treatment in an undisclosed public hospital.
The latest situational update from the World Health Organisation, dated Thursday, says there are now 95,333 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 80,565 of them in China. Some 14,768 cases have been confirmed in 85 other countries. The death toll stands at 3,015 in China and 267 elsewhere.
- African News Agency (ANA)