Limpopo launches Covid-19 response plan after cases surge in mining towns

Mapungubwe National Park in Limpopo. Picture: iStock

The launch was held in the Sekhukhune district, which is now the epicentre after the number of cases dramatically increased following the resumption of mining activities.

The Limpopo government launched a Covid-19 surge plan on Tuesday as the number of cases continue to rise, especially in mining areas.

The plan entails increased screening and testing for Covid-19 and other illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease, in hotspots.

Speaking to News24 on the sideline, Chief Nkoane Malekana said communities were gripped by fear and were calling for increased compliance in the mining sector.

“Community members are very fearful about the rise of [Covid-19] cases. We understand most cases are emanating from the mines. But we are happy the government is intervening,” Malekana said.

He emphasised the need for the compulsory quarantine of mineworkers who have Covid-19 symptoms and for communities to help stop the spread of the disease.

Local councillor Caiphus Makua also spoke of the need to isolate mineworkers.

In his address, Premier Stan Mathabatha said there were some mining houses which didn’t comply with government instructions to quarantine workers, hence the rise in cases in the district.

“We visited these mines and insisted that they should quarantine everybody who comes from outside this province. We were sure this district was at zero level.

“But believe me, today this district is the epicentre. It was because of our decision to open up the mines, which was not a wrong decision,” Mathabatha said.

He also pointed out that pupils would not be sent back to schools where there was a shortage of water and a lack of sanitation.

He said portable toilets with running water would be installed.

Mathabatha also dismissed suggestions that the academic year should be scrapped.

“We are engaging with teacher unions  [for them] to understand that life doesn’t end with Covid-19. There is life after Covid-19.”

According to the surge plan, 100 doctors will be deployed to work closely with 1 000 nurses in communities.

A further 10,000 volunteers will also be deployed to work with 1.6 million households in the province.

By Wednesday morning, the province had recorded 132 active Covid-19 cases and three registered deaths.

Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba indicated that meetings were held with De Beers regarding Venetia Mine in Musina in the Vhembe District.

Ramathuba said she was satisfied, for now, with their presentation but would still have to visit the area to make sure all plans were in place.

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