Zimbabwe has the unenviable task of screening and testing about 40 000 miners for COVID-19 immediately following a directive by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to ministries of Mines and Health to reopen the mines despite the country being on lockdown for a further two weeks.
During a live address to the nation on Sunday, Mnangagwa announced that he will allow mines and manufacturers to resume some operations. He said:
Government is acutely aware of the need to keep the economy running, albeit at subdued levels. With this objective in mind, the government has decided to allow the mining sector to resume or scale up operations, even then within parameters set by the WHO regarding social distancing and other public health safety measures.
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I have now directed the ministries of Health and Child Care and that of Mines and Mining Development to work closely to ensure the workforce in the mining sector is immediately screened and tested ahead of resumed operations.
The Chamber of Mines, which represents formal miners, says its members employ more than 40 000 people.
Zimbabwe currently screens and tests about 500 people daily for COVID-19, the highly infectious disease caused by the new coronavirus.
At this rate, it will take nearly three months to test and screen miners only.