Mines hope to get shots in workers' arms in phase 2 of Covid-19 vaccinations

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Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Minerals Council of South Africa hopes to get workers inoculated for Covid-19 in the second phase of the vaccine roll-out.

The body - which represent the country's mining companies - on Thursday said some mine workers were categorised as essential workers under the Disaster Management Regulations.

The roll-out of the vaccine would take place in phases following the delivery of one million AstraZeneca doses this week. The first phase is going to target frontline health workers. 

On Thursday, the council's head of health, Thuthula Balfour, told journalists that they hope that the vaccination of mine workers would start in the second phase. But the council stressed that it was government's prerogative to decide the order of the roll-out.

"When it comes to mining, we hope that all the mine workers will come in in phase 2... because the last group is for everyone else," said Balfour.

"There was a definition in the disaster regulations which put gold refineries and coal workers as essential workers."

Balfour mentioned that the industry is trying establish the broader implications of the classification of mine workers.

The sector has already expressed its readiness to help government with the roll-out of the vaccine, citing its readily available health infrastructure and capacity. They have indicated that they have capacity to carry out 60 000 to 80 000 vaccinations per day. 

The mining industry is one the mass employers in the country, with 471 962 people employed in 2020. Various mining houses boast fully functioning health facilities that could be utilised for the vaccination programme.

The sector has recorded 301 deaths, with the platinum mines accounting for the highest number of fatalities. 

There are currently 1 193 active Covid-19 cases, according to latest data provided by the council. Tests conducted sit at 106 744.

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