Several employees cannot work for weeks because one of their colleagues caught a contagious disease.
Dozens of workers were recently placed in isolation for 14 days at 29Metals’ Golden Grove mine, about 450km northeast of Perth.
The proponent confirmed one underground services contractor first reported coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in late January 2021. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test returned a positive result on the weekend, even though the night-shift worker no longer experienced symptoms.
Close contacts were isolated and all employees had a rapid antigen test (RAT). None of the RATs returned a positive result at the time of publication.
“There are currently 24 workers in isolation on site, comprising a small number of deemed close contacts of one confirmed case, with the balance being workers identified as attending exposure sites before mobilising to site,” a 29Metals spokesperson said in a public statement.
“All casual contacts of the confirmed case were isolated and have undergone RAT and PCR tests. All personnel have returned negative RAT results and returned to work in accordance with WA Health requirements.”
Since most personnel have already returned to normal duties the employer does not expect any significant delays to production. The business already has COVID-19 management plans in place to “manage transmission risks”.
“At this stage, the confirmed case, and testing and isolation requirements, have not had a material impact on production at Golden Grove,” the spokesperson said.
“29Metals is managing the situation closely, including ongoing engagement with WA Health officials and enhanced communication with the workforce. The company is closely monitoring the wellbeing of the workforce.”
State Premier Mark McGowan plans to halve the mandatory isolation time to one week once the Golden State’s COVID-19 caseload increases.
“It will not be far away but the 14 days is safer [because] it ensures we have less spread of the virus in WA [and] it allows us to get our third dose vaccination rate up without greater community spread of the virus,” he said according to the Australian Associated Press.
“[This policy has] saved thousands of lives and many thousands of jobs, and that is the approach we will continue to adopt.”
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