DOH to investigate COVID-19 transmission in mining sites
A small-scale miner takes a break from extracting gold in the village of Gumatdang in Itogon, Benguet. More than 60 percent of Gumatdang’s residents are engaged in small-scale mining.
The STAR/Artemio Dumlao
DOH to investigate COVID-19 transmission in mining sites
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - October 28, 2020 - 3:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health said Wednesday it is looking into coronavirus transmission in different mining sites in the country.

In separate disclosures, three mining sites reported cases of COVID-19 among their workers.

“We will be investigating these cases and we will be advising the employers of these mining employees to prevent situations similar to these,” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing Wednesday.

Citing that the risk of infection is higher in enclosed and cramped spaces such as mine tunnels, Vergeire reminded mine employees to continue wearing face masks and face shields, frequent handwashing and maintaining at least one-meter distance from others while they are working.

“You are not exempt from minimum public health standards and more so because you’re in that setting where there is higher risk of transmission because of enclosed space, because of the presence of many people. There is an even greater need to implement minimum health standards,” she said.

Nickel Asia Corp. said mining activities at Tagana-an mine in Surigao del Norte will be suspended indefinitely after local officials placed the site on lockdown “until further orders.” The suspension came after 19 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Apex Mining Co. Inc. also suspended the operations of its Sangilo mine in Itogon, Benguet. As of October 26, over 80 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the site.

Meanwhile, Philex Mining Corp said activities in its Padcal mine have resumed Wednesday at 50% capacity. The Pangilinan-led firm said 151 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of the 1,425 individuals tested, which include employees and their families.

The Philippines has so far reported 373,144 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 328,602 recoveries and 7,053 deaths. 

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