The Limpopo government is at loggerheads with mining houses over quarantining workers as the sector emerges as the main source of the Covid-19 pandemic in the province.
Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba said in Polokwane on Saturday the government and mining houses were “failing to find each other” on the issue.
This after 13 mineworkers at the Marula Platinum Mine in the Sekhukhune District tested positive for the virus.
“Where we are failing to find each other is on the forceful quarantine [of workers]. We are saying testing depends on timing.
“Why don’t we use the same example of the Wuhan group. They were all tested before they left China, but because they have been in an area with Covid-19, we said let’s quarantine them at the Ranch [Resort] for 14 days,” Ramathuba said.
The department is sticking with this view, even though a month ago, the Polokwane High Court ordered the release of two doctors who were forcefully quarantined at a facility in Modimolle.
The Limpopo cabinet and top officials of the mining houses have been engaged in several virtual meetings over the forceful quarantine of workers for up to 14 days.
Ramathuba said the 13 mineworkers were part of the 130 employees who were unable to explain their whereabouts after they returned to work at Implat’s Marula Platinum Mine.
About 2 700 workers reported for duty between 15 and 17 April. They were tested for Covid-19 and were allowed to go underground.
She added the 130 workers were now being housed at facility under the care of government health officials and were asymptomatic.
Ramathuba insisted forceful quarantine was the only way to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“People who are not complying must be isolated and this thing of self-isolation – we have seen – it doesn’t work.
“The mines are saying they will quarantine those who test positive after presenting with the symptoms. But how many will test positive? We are saying from our side that everyone must be quarantined because you don’t know who is infected or not,” Ramathuba said.
The government is expected to meet again with the mining houses on Monday.
The number of Covid-19 cases in Limpopo has now risen to 76. The number also includes two cases reported in Lephalale on Friday.
Ramathuba said the number was expected to rise as more people returned to work in the province’s mines.